MIAMI - The crew of the USCG Cutter Tampa spent Tuesday in Miami offloading nearly three tons of cocaine that they intercepted in the Caribbean Sea earlier this month.
Back on April 9, a patrol flight spotted a "low-profile vessel" off the coast of Punta Gallinas, Colombia. The USCGC Tampa dispatched a law enforcement team to seize the smugglers.
Aboard the boat, they found 5,500 pounds of cocaine in 87 bales, worth an estimated $94.6 million. Three suspects were taken into custody and their small craft was destroyed because it posed a hazard to navigation.
The drugs were offloaded in Miami on Tuesday.
Coast Guard Cutter Tampa crew offloads approximately 5,500 pounds of cocaine at Base Miami Beach, Miami, Florida, April 20, 2021. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Charly Tautfest).
The 270-foot-long USCGC Tampa is actually based in Virginia but was sailing in the Caribbean Sea as part of a multi-agency counter-narcotics operation that began a year ago.
"This event is the perfect example of numerous key partners unifying our efforts to counter transnational criminal organizations who look to exploit the maritime environment," said Coast Guard spokesperson Lt. Cmdr. Jason Neiman.
The Coast Guard noted that the drug suspects were checked out by medical personnel and did not display any COVID-19 symptoms.
Two Coast Guard Cutter Tampa crewmembers pass a bale of cocaine during a drug offload at Base Miami Beach, Miami, Florida. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Charly Tautfest).
Coast Guard Cutter Tampa crew offloads approximately 5,500 pounds of cocaine. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Charly Tautfest)
The interdiction was the result of multi-agency efforts in support of U.S. Southern Command's enhanced counter-narcotics operations in the Western Hemisphere, the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) and High Intensity Drug Traffickin