In a new press release, the United States Coast Guard announced it seized more than 14,153 pounds of cocaine worth more than $186 million several days ago.
According to Coast Guard authorities, the illicit drugs were intercepted during nine separate cases in international waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.
Officials note that 12 suspected drug smugglers were arrested and currently face prosecution.
“The contraband offloaded today represents the professional expertise and dedication of U.S. defense and law enforcement agencies working together to combat the flow of illicit drugs through the Caribbean Region into the United States,” said Coast Guard Lieutenant Peter Hutchison.
“This teamwork is imperative to the identification, interception, and seizure of vessels engaged in illicit trafficking and a testament to the hard work of these crews,” Hutchison added.
The latest announcement from the U.S. Coast Guard comes as drug smugglers at the U.S.-Southern border with Mexico continue to pour in illicit fentanyl and synthetic opioids into the homeland, landing in the hands of many young Americans and deadly overdoses.
“Maritime smuggling remains one of the most important avenues for cocaine producers in South America to get their product to the United States, either, directly or after transferring to overland routes in Mexico,” said Kyle Shideler, Director and Senior Analyst for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism at the Center for Security Policy.
Experts like Shideler note that while the insecurity of America’s Southern border often receives a large share of media attention, this recent Coast Guard announcement is a “reminder that U.S. maritime borders are also under constant threat.”
“Ultimately, all U.S. states are now ‘border states;’ and must act accordingly,” Shideler told The Foreign Desk.