FORT LAUDERDALE, FL (WWAY) — Seven tons of cocaine was seized and offloaded at Port Everglades in Florida by the U.S. Coast Guard. The Wilmington-based Coast Guard Cutter Diligence assisted in that large drug bust.
In a video released by the Coast Guard Tuesday morning, the crew on board the Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton can be seen approaching cocaine smugglers in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. Minutes before making contact, the smugglers can be seen dumping their cargo into the ocean in an attempt to hide their crime.
“It’s pretty intense. I think everybody’s heart rate gets going, and we’re all trying to stay focused on what we’re doing,” said Assistant Operations Officer Drew Ferraro.
According to officials, the haul totals more than $190 million and is set to arrive at Port Everglades at 8 a.m., Tuesday, a little over a week since the drugs were seized. The cocaine arriving is from the Feb. 4 bust involving the Hamilton, Diligence and crews of three other cutters.
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“I know the communities of South Florida have first-hand history with the dangers of transactional criminal organizations and highly profitable drugs,” said Hamilton Capt. Mark Gordon. “No one wants to see a return to the days of cocaine cowboys.”
Back on Dec. 7, the crew of another Coast Guard cutter brought back a similar haul of seized cocaine. The commander of that vessel explained what’s at stake in those kinds of missions.
“These at-sea interdictions are often high-tempo, high-risk evolutions that occur in the dark of night,” said Commander Michael Turdo.
Keeping the drugs off the street is a major blow to organized crime networks and the wide range of illegal activities they take part in.
Some officers, like Morgan Bal, have personal motivations on keeping the drugs off the streets. “As someone who personally lost a loved one to overdose, I feel like I’m doing my part to making sure other family and friends and loved ones don’t lose somebody else,” Bal said.
A total of 27 people have been detained as part of this operation. Eighteen of them were brought back to the United States, while the rest of them were deported to Ecuador.
The Drug Enforcement Administration is now taking over the investigation and will ultimately destroy the drugs.