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A U.S. Coast Guardsman offloads cocaine at Coast Guard Station Miami Beach, FL on Sept. 18, 2014.

By NAN Staff Writer

News Americas, MIAMI BEACH, FL, Fri. Sept. 19, 2014: Approximately US$173 million worth of cocaine has been seized in the Caribbean sea since January, a News Americas Now analysis of all U.S. Coast Guard drug busts since the start of 2014 has found.

The latest cocaine seized was offloaded in Miami by U.S. Coast Guards at the Miami Beach Station Thursday afternoon, Sept. 18th, in South Florida.

The batch was approximately 719 kilograms worth an estimated wholesale value of more than $23 million and was the result of a successful drug interdiction northeast of Panama on Sept. 8, 2014.

The latest seizure marks the third time in recent weeks in which large quantities of illegal narcotics were seized from cargo vessels.

“Drug smuggling organizations continually try to shift their tactics to avoid interdiction by the Coast Guard,” said Cmdr. Timothy Cronin, deputy chief of enforcement for the Coast Guard 7th District.  “Our goal is to prevent illegal drugs from reaching American shores and to reduce the destabilization effects they have on our neighboring countries in Central America. We will continue to lawfully stop and search vessels we suspect may be involved in maritime illicit trafficking.”

There have been several other huge coke busts this year.

On Aug. 28, the Coast Guard Cutter Legare boarded a 165-foot Panamanian-flagged coastal freighter and seized 1,500 kilograms of cocaine worth and estimated wholesale value of approximately $49.9 million.

On Aug. 10, the Coast Guard Cutter Tampa located 973 kilograms of cocaine worth an estimated wholesale value of more than $32 million aboard a 226-foot Panamanian-flagged freighter while patrolling off the coast of Haiti.

In May, 35 kilograms of cocaine worth a combined wholesale value of more than $3 million was seized in the southwest Caribbean Sea while in April, during a patrol, the crew aboard the Spencer interdicted 1,327 pounds of cocaine off the coast of the Dominican Republic 35 kilograms of cocaine worth a combined wholesale value of more than $3 million.

On the evening of March 19, crewmembers aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Legare pursued a go-fast vessel in the southwest Caribbean Sea prompting the suspected smugglers to jettison 900 kilograms of cocaine, worth an estimated wholesale value of $30 million, into the water.

And on Jan 22, The Coast Guard offloaded 2,500 pounds of cocaine, worth an estimated $37 million wholesale value, seized in a historic multi-national counterdrug operation south of the Dominican Republic.

The news comes as U.S. President Barack Obama identified twenty-two countries as major illicit drug-producing or drug-transit countries for this year. The majority are in the Americas are include: the Bahamas, Belize, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela.

Under the Foreign Relations Authorization Act (FRAA), the United States President is required each year to notify Congress of those countries he determines to be major illicit drug-producing countries or major drug-transit countries that “significantly affect the United States.”



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