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Posted: 9/28/2004 10:28:28 AM EST
September 28, 2004

Navy, Coast Guard seize 68,000 pounds of cocaine

By William H. McMichael
Times staff writer

Nearly 68,000 pounds of cocaine were seized recently from three smugglers operating in the east Pacific Ocean by two Navy ships and their Coast Guard boarding teams, officials announced Monday. Two of the three busts were the largest at-sea seizures in history, according to the Coast Guard.

The seizures, enabled by a Florida-based multi-agency task force investigation, took place in the general vicinity of the Galapagos Islands, located roughly 600 miles west of Ecuador.

The first bust took place on Sept. 17 when the San Diego-based frigate Curts intercepted the fishing vessel Lina Maria 300 miles southwest of the Galapagos, the Department of Homeland Security said. The Coast Guard boarding team found approximately 14.52 tons of cocaine and arrested 10 crewmembers.

On Sept. 23, the frigate Crommelin, which operates out of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, intercepted the fishing vessel San Jose, the sister vessel to the Lina Maria, about 1,000 miles south of Manzanillo, Mexico. The Coast Guard boarding team discovered about 13 tons of cocaine and arrested eight crewmembers.

And on Sunday, the Curts and its Coast Guard team struck gold again, seizing approximately 12,250 pounds of cocaine from the fishing vessel Cielo Azul. Eight crewmembers were arrested, the Navy said. That seizure took place about 224 miles northeast of the Galapagos, according to the Coast Guard.

The Lina Maria seizure was the largest at-sea cocaine bust in history, according to Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Jeff Carter. The San Jose seizure was the third-largest, he said.

The operations were supported by embarked helicopter detachments and Navy P-3 aircraft patrolling the area, according to U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command.

The seizures bring the total cocaine seized this year by the Coast Guard to a record 240,519 pounds, worth approximately $7.3 billion, according to Homeland Security.

The back-to-back seizures were the result of a multi-agency effort dubbed “Operation Panama Express,” a long-standing Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation based out of Tampa, Fla.

Link Posted: 9/28/2004 10:35:05 AM EST
dammit, no wonder no one's checked in yet.
Link Posted: 9/28/2004 10:39:58 AM EST
Link Posted: 9/28/2004 10:41:24 AM EST

Originally Posted By RS39:
Nice blow against the evil white powder.
Thanks for the post!



Interesting choice of a word.
Link Posted: 9/28/2004 10:42:01 AM EST
Link Posted: 9/28/2004 10:44:39 AM EST
Shoot, he would be fighting with with the open trunk guy selling "assault weapons" for corner space....


Originally Posted By TomJefferson:
Had a buddy find a Uhaul trailer with a flat tire full of coke. Street value was unbeliveable, kilos upon kilos. He turned it in.

I ask him "Were you tempted to keep a few hundred thousand dollars worth?"

He replied, "What would I do stand on the street corner with a sign, buy your coke here?"

Tj

Link Posted: 9/28/2004 10:58:01 AM EST
I knew some guys down south that used to find that shit floating in the ocean every once in a while, They said they always turned it in.

Into a new boat.. into a new car.. into a new airplane...


I'm sure they were only joking.
Link Posted: 9/28/2004 11:03:30 AM EST
Ouch...

Half of Wall Street's stock brokers are really gonna feel this one....
Link Posted: 9/28/2004 11:11:31 AM EST
Hmmmm...Echelon really does work!
Link Posted: 9/28/2004 11:16:10 AM EST
Damn, what am I supposed to do next weekend ? I had a couple of strippers coming over.
Link Posted: 9/28/2004 11:17:03 AM EST
Drop in the bucket.
Link Posted: 9/28/2004 11:18:32 AM EST

Originally Posted By Hokie:
Ouch...

Half of Wall Street's stock brokers are really gonna feel this one....




Doubt it. Despite heavy interdiction efforts, the street price of illegal drugs has risen very little in the past decade.

This means supply is more than keeping up with demand.

-Z
Link Posted: 9/28/2004 3:16:09 PM EST
"Nearly 68,000 pounds of cocaine were seized recently from three smugglers operating in the east Pacific Ocean by two Navy ships and their Coast Guard boarding teams, officials announced Monday."

FYI: They are not the Navy's Coast Guard Boarding teams. They may be Navy ships, but they are under the authority of the Coast Guard for those ops. The Navy ships take orders from the Coast Guard Boarding teams, not the other way around. They fly the Coast Guard Ensign as well. Smuggler scumbags know that a warship has no jurisdiction for LE, but when they see the CG flag hoisted, they know they're screwed! Coast Guard can use any platform to conduct ops. A small, but powerful branch.
Link Posted: 9/28/2004 3:24:06 PM EST
Yet, somehow, cocaine use, availability and price has been about the same for the last 20 years. If you take inflation into account, cocaine is cheaper on the street than it has ever been and is seeing a resurgence in popularity.

Perhaps these interdiction resources could be better employed elsewhere?
Link Posted: 9/28/2004 4:15:27 PM EST
Hmm.

Is cocaine illegal everywhere in the world? 600 miles WEST of Ecuador seems like it would be WELL in international waters. Who's law did the "smugglers" break? Don't get me wrong, I'm not a junkie sympathizer. I'm just trying to figure out why we're wasting manpower on a boat of cocaine in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
Link Posted: 9/28/2004 4:21:56 PM EST

Originally Posted By bulldog1967:
Drop in the bucket.



Yep...
Link Posted: 9/28/2004 4:25:29 PM EST
Somebody's gonna be pissed...
Link Posted: 9/28/2004 4:29:31 PM EST
Oh Christ! How much is this going to affect the price of hookers and blow!
Link Posted: 9/28/2004 5:08:58 PM EST
"Is cocaine illegal everywhere in the world? 600 miles WEST of Ecuador seems like it would be WELL in international waters. Who's law did the "smugglers" break? Don't get me wrong, I'm not a junkie sympathizer. I'm just trying to figure out why we're wasting manpower on a boat of cocaine in the middle of the Pacific Ocean."

To make it simple for you, yes it is illegal everywhere on the high seas. They broke international laws under the IMO. The International Maritime Organization consists of most countries (all money making ones). Any vessel in International waters bound for the US gives us jurisdiction over it. If they don't want to divulge where they are going or where they are from, we consider it a stateless vessel, which gives us authority over it, or any other country too(in the IMO). There are lots of international rules on the water.
By your reasoning, we also wouldn't be able to do anything about vessels with weapons until they got 12 miles from our shore.
It's not just supply and demand, it's competition that have kept prices down. Lots of other drugs now that are cheap and easy to make within the states. Low overhead when you don't have to run the gauntlet on the ocean.
Last, those vessels patrolling out there are not just there to play with smugglers.
Link Posted: 9/28/2004 6:36:13 PM EST
Damnit!

There goes my weekend, does anyone need the hookers? They're useless without the coke.

Link Posted: 9/28/2004 6:37:49 PM EST
thats it?!!??

just remember that tousands of tones of this stuff get in the us

but EXCELLENT job for the uscg!
Link Posted: 9/28/2004 6:42:15 PM EST

Originally Posted By osprey21:
I knew some guys down south that used to find that shit floating in the ocean every once in a while, They said they always turned it in.

Into a new boat.. into a new car.. into a new airplane...


I'm sure they were only joking.



I knew a guy that found some on the beach off the east coast years back. He threw it back in...well, thats what he said. Apparently it used to float into the beach quite frequently back then.
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