Coast Guard offloads $36 million in drugs in St. Petersburg

7:35 PM, Oct 7, 2012   |    comments
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The crew of the Coast Guard cutter Resolute offloaded an estimated $36 million in marijuana and cocaine Sunday. Oct. 7 at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg.



ST. PETERSBURG, Florida -- The crew of the Coast Guard cutter Resolute offloaded an estimated $36 million in marijuana and cocaine Sunday at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg.

The drugs collectively weighed about as much as a SUV, and were seized as the crew of the Resolute, based in St. Petersburg, was at sea training and supporting counter-narcotics and search and rescue operations in the Western Caribbean. The suspected drug smugglers were on a go-fast boat, which is known to be stealthy and hard to detect by radar. A helicopter spotted the boat, filled with drugs and four Honduran traffickers.

"In this particular case, these traffickers leapt overboard during the interdiction," said Resolute Commander Charles Miller. "That's the first time for me to see that actually happen."

All four were rescued from the water and detained.

During the boarding, the Resolute's crew reportedly discovered 53 bales covered in a white powdery substance that later tested positive for cocaine. An estimated total of 2,921 pounds of cocaine and 1,300 pounds of marijuana were seized.

In a separate incident, the crew of the Resolute also seized more than $1 million worth of marijuana when their helicopter spotted another drug smuggling vessel. Resolute's crew recovered 45 bales of marijuana from the water, weighing nearly 1,500 pounds.

About a year ago, another Coast Guard cutter pulled into St. Pete with $180 million worth of cocaine seized off the coast of Honduras. Then in May, drugs with a street value of $135 million were recovered in four separate busts. 

"I expect we'll see drugs carried at sea in go-fast boats for years to come, simply because it's cheap and fast," said Commander Miller. "But our techniques and our experience is growing every day and making it harder for traffickers to do so."

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