Coast Guard personnel are making headlines with their record cocaine and cannabis offload at Point Everglades.
The offload is happening today, and it is estimated that the total amount of narcotics exceeds $1.4 billion. This is currently being considered the largest offload in Coast Guard history.
Coast Guard Makes the Drop
The crew handling this massive offload are aboard the Coast Cutter James. They are bringing in a total of about 59,700 pounds of cocaine and 1,430 pounds of cannabis. The narcotics were seized from interdictions in the Eastern Pacific and Carribean Sea.
“It’s a big team effort,” said Carson McCluskey, one of the members of the crew. He has been with the coast guard for 14 months. “We use small boats; we use helicopters; we use people on land. And we just all come together to make this happen.”
Captain Todd Vance, who is heading up the operation, said the drugs were seized during the last three months. He also claims they are double what was interdicted in the fall of 2020, another big haul, making it the biggest so far.
“Every bail of cocaine on this flight deck that doesn’t make it to our shores represents lives saved in New York City, Philly, Chicago, Los Angeles, or any small town that’s dealing with pandemic levels of drug overdoses this year,” said Captain Vance, Commanding Officer aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter James.
The next step is to hand the intercepted drugs over to an agency team that will work with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to try and figure out who is responsible for the illegal shipments and pursue them accordingly.
Coast Guard Cleanup
While this case of offloading is making headlines due to its record-breaking nature, this isn’t the first giant offload the Coast Guard has had this year. Back in March, Coast Guard Cutter Munro offloaded about 8,200 pounds of seized cocaine and 11,450 pounds of cannabis at Coast Guard Base Alameda in California.
The crew also transferred 12 detainees that they had in custody, along with another 9,200 pounds of cocaine and 2,150 pounds of cannabis to San Diego law enforcement prior to unloading.
The estimated total of the haul was $330 million, and it was seized in the Eastern Pacific Ocean during the first part of the year from 15 suspected drug smuggling vessel interdictions.
“National security cutters like Munro are national-level assets and are game changers for the United States government’s maritime interdiction capability,” said Vice Adm. Linda Fagan, commander of Coast Guard Pacific Area. “As your Coast Guard, we use our unique capabilities and authorities as a military service and a law enforcement agency to secure the nation’s maritime border and to disrupt illegal activity of dangerous cartels. This offload demonstrates another successful cycle of justice.
“Transnational criminal organizations have not slowed down due to the pandemic, and the Coast Guard women and men continue to protect our nation on the frontlines,” said Captain Blake Novak, commanding officer of the Munro. “Our crew intercepted a group of suspected smugglers, on average, every 90 hours for 45 days straight, seizing nearly 30,000 pounds of cocaine and marijuana valued at over $330 million. Maintaining such a high level of performance was only possible because of a total team effort. This crew set the bar for excellence, and I am incredibly proud of all of them.”
While the debate rages on about decriminalizing cannabis and how to help those impacted by the War on Drugs, one thing is crystal clear: Military forces like the Coast Guard are still bringing in massive amounts of black market substances due to supply and demand. It’s unclear if federal decriminalization of cannabis would make seizures on black market marijuana less common.
Addison Herron-Wheeler is co-publisher and owner of OUT FRONT Magazine, and web editor of New Noise Magazine. She covers cannabis and heavy metal, and is author of Wicked Woman: Women in Metal from the 1960s to Now and Respirator, a collection of short stories.