Coast Guard Cutter Returns After Seizing $350 Million in Narcotics
Oct 06, 2017
by Peter Hegarty
ALAMEDA -- The Coast Guard Cutter Stratton returned to Coast Guard Island after seizing cocaine and heroin with an estimated street value of more than $350 million during a deployment in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.
Along with seizing more than 18,500 pounds of narcotics, the Stratton's crew interdicted 11 drug-smuggling vessels and detained more than 40 suspected smugglers for prosecution in U.S. courts.
The deployment took place over 75 days in international waters off Central and South America.
The seizures were among the 50,550 pounds of cocaine and heroin worth an estimated $679.3 million that Stratton's crew offloaded in San Diego, helping mark a record-breaking year of drug interdictions by the Coast Guard.
Among those on hand to witness the offloading were Attorney General Jeff Sessions, U.S. Representatives Duncan Hunter, R-San Diego, and Darryl Issa, R-Vista, as well as Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft.
The offloaded drugs were the result of 25 seizures conducted by four Coast Guard cutters, including Stratton, and a Navy ship since the first interdiction on Aug. 2.
In all, more than 455,034 pounds of cocaine worth more than $6.1 billion have been intercepted by the Coast Guard in fiscal year 2017.
The Coast Guard's previous record of 443,000 pounds was set in fiscal year 2016. A final report on this year's numbers is expected to be released shortly.
Stratton is the Coast Guard's third National Security Cutter, which are designed to be flagships of the fleet. The Legend class cutters have a top speed of more than 28 knots, a range of 12,000 nautical miles, and can carry a crew of up to 150.
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Photo caption: Petty Officer 2nd Class Alexander Davis, boatswains mate, Coast Guard Cutter Stratton, inspects the bales of cocaine and heroin during the Stratton's drug offload, San Diego. (U.S. Coast Guard photo/Fireman Taylor Bacon)
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