Coast Guard Petty Officer Crystalynn Kneen, PIO, takes a photo of the crew of the Sitkinak, which unloaded 2,500 pounds and $37 million worth of cocaine Jan. 28 at the Coast Guard Base Miami Beach, Fla. (Walter Michot / AP)
The U.S. Coast Guard offloads 2,500 pounds and $37 million worth of cocaine at the Coast Guard Base Miami Beach, Fla. (Walter Michot / AP)
MIAMI BEACH, FLA. — The U.S. Coast Guard offloaded 2,500 pounds of cocaine valued at $37 million that was seized in a historic multi-national operation in the Caribbean, officials said Tuesday.
In the early morning hours on Jan. 22, a Coast Guard fixed-wing aircraft spotted a 25-foot vessel speeding south of the Dominican Republic with four people on board. The Coast Guard said it detected several suspicious packages and called the British Royal military ship Wave Knight, which launched the Coast Guard helicopter.
The Coast Guard helicopter then chased the vessel and fired warning shots. The people on board then started tossing packages into the water. The helicopter then fired an object to disable the vessel so that law enforcement officials could board it.
The four were arrested and the cocaine was seized, said Lt. Commander Gabe Somma, public affairs officer for the 7th district which includes Miami.
Authorities did not immediately release the identities or nationalities of those arrested.
“This $37 million worth of cocaine is not going to make it here,” Somma said from the Coast Guard station in Miami Beach.
Last year, more than $5 billion worth of drugs were intercepted by the Coast Guard and federal partners, Somma said.