Published 8:26 AM EDT Sep 25, 2019
The Coast Guard says it has seized 6 tons of cocaine worth $165 million from a 40-foot submarine in the Pacific Ocean, one of several massive drug hauls completed by the agency this month.
The cutter Valiant was on routine patrol in the Eastern Pacific earlier this month when the crew approached the 40-foot sub in international waters and apprehended four suspected drug smugglers, the Coast Guard said. The sub had been detected and monitored by maritime patrol aircraft, and the Valiant crew was diverted by Joint Interagency Task Force South.
The Valiant launched two small boats with boarding teams that seized the sub with the assistance of the Colombian Navy. Over 1,100 pounds of cocaine were recovered and offloaded to the Valiant during the operations, but the remaining cocaine could not be immediately extracted due to stability.
“The joint boarding successfully stopped a drug smuggling vessel and also strengthened international relations and communications between the two partner nations,” the Coast Guard said.
The Coast Guard released several seconds of video and photos of the sub being boarded. According to Valiant’s commanding officer, the interdiction involved a traditional milestone of crossing the equator.
“There are no words to describe the feeling Valiant crew is experiencing,” Cmdr. Matthew Waldron said. “In a 24-hour period, the crew both crossed the equator and intercepted a drug-laden self-propelled semi-submersible vessel. Each in and of themselves is momentous events in any cutterman’s career. Taken together, however, it is truly, remarkably unprecedented.”
Waldron also noted that many of the Florida-based crew’s families had recently been forced to evacuate Jacksonville due to Hurricane Dorian.
“We could not have successfully completed this interdiction without the love and support of our families back home,” he said. “To the Valiant families, a heartfelt ‘Thank You!’”
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The Valiant is a 210-foot Medium-Endurance Cutter commissioned in 1967. Missions include search and rescue, maritime law enforcement, marine environmental protection, homeland security, and national defense operations.
Last week, Coast Guard crews seized more than 6 tons of cocaine from several boats off the western coast of Mexico, Central America and South America.