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Coast Guard cutter arrives in U.S. with 14 tons of cocaine

  • A crewman from the Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell guarded some of more than 28,000 pounds of cocaine, seized at sea and offloaded at Naval Base San Diego on Thursday. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Connie Terrell via AP)

SAN DIEGO » A Coast Guard cutter arrived Thursday in San Diego with more than 14 tons of cocaine, part of what authorities described as a surge of seizures near Central and South America.

The cocaine, valued by the Coast Guard at $424 million, was seized by U.S. and Canadian forces in 19 separate incidents in the eastern Pacific Ocean near Central and South America. It included a 10Ω-ton bust from a coastal freighter, the largest maritime drug interdiction in that area since 2009.

The U.S. Navy and Coast Guard and Royal Canadian Navy ships have seized more than 28 tons of cocaine valued at $848 million in the eastern Pacific region near Central and South America in the last six months, resulting in 101 arrests. That’s more than the 12-month period that ended in September, and U.S. authorities called it the most successful run for drug seizures in the area since 2009.

Suspicious vessels in international waters were tracked by military or law enforcement aircraft or vessels. Coast Guard personnel operating from Coast Guard cutters and Royal Canadian Navy vessels boarded the ships to seize the drugs.

Thursday’s arrival marked the second time that the Cutter Boutwell returned home with a huge load of drugs. In October, its crew turned over more than 14 tons of cocaine to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

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