The Coast Guard offloaded more than 40,000 pounds of cocaine worth an estimated $500 million from cutter Sherman here April 23, 2007, seized by the crew in three busts near Central America in February and March.
The offload will include approximately 38,000 pounds of cocaine seized in the largest cocaine bust in maritime history.
The Ecuadorian-flagged fishing vessel Don Juan K was approached in the Pacific Ocean Feb. 19 off the coast of Mexico while allegedly offloading cocaine into “go-fast” (cigarette-style boat) boats. The fishing vessel’s crew apparently set fire to Don Juan K in an attempt to destroy the evidence and flee in the go-fasts. Sherman’s crew stopped the go-fasts and recovered about 900 pounds of cocaine as Don Juan K sank. The 14 crew members are being processed for further legal action.
The 330-foot Panamanian-flagged motor vessel Gatun was interdicted in the Pacific Ocean Mar. 18 off the coast of Panama while heading north toward the United States. Sherman’s crew stopped and boarded the vessel and found 765 bales of cocaine weighing approximately 38,000 pounds in two shipping containers. Gatun was escorted back to Panama and its 14 crew members processed for further legal action.
Sherman’s crew stopped and boarded a small stateless go-fast in the Pacific Ocean Mar. 25 off the coast of Panama following a short chase, in which, the go-fast attempted to flee at a high rate of speed. Approximately 2000 pounds of cocaine was found aboard the go-fast and its four crew members were processed for further legal action.
The Coast Guard works in close coordination with Joint Interagency Task Force South, U.S. Attorney’s office, Panama Express South, DEA, FBI, Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Customs and Border Protection, as well as the Departments of Justice, State and Homeland Security on counter drug operations in the Pacific Ocean near Central and South America. These drug smuggling routes are some of the most active, yielding roughly 70% of the cocaine seized annually by the Coast Guard.
The Coast Guard has kept about two million pounds of cocaine from reaching America’s streets since 1973.