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Honolulu-bound Coast Guard cutter makes second cocaine bust

William Cole
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Courtesy U.S. Coast Guard
New U.S. Coast Guard cutter Midgett hasn't even arrived at its home port and already it's made two drug busts.
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Crew members from the pre-commissioned Coast Guard Cutter Midgett sit atop a suspected low-profile go-fast vessel interdicted by the crew July 31 in international waters of the Eastern Pacific Ocean. The crew seized more than 4,600 pounds of cocaine from the suspected drug-smuggling vessel.

The new Coast Guard national security cutter Midgett, which is expected to arrive at its new home port of Honolulu on Friday, has chalked up a second major drug bust — even before it is officially commissioned.

The crew stopped a low-profile vessel July 31 and seized more than 4,600 pounds of cocaine during a boarding in international waters of the Eastern Pacific, the Coast Guard said today.

It was the second at-sea cocaine seizure made by Midgett’s crew in a week’s time.

Midgett’s crew seized more than 2,100 pounds of cocaine July 25 from a low-profile boat in the Eastern Pacific on the 418-foot cutter’s first cocaine seizure ever since departing the Pascagoula, Mississippi, shipyard in June following acceptance by the Coast Guard.

The two boardings resulted in a combined seizure of over 6,700 pounds of cocaine, estimated to be worth over $89 million, according to the Coast Guard.

“Low-profile, go-fast vessels are purpose-built by cartels for smuggling large quantities of contraband by riding low in the water to avoid detection,” the Coast Guard Pacific Area said in a release. “By design, they can be quickly sunk through the use of integrated scuttling valves, a dangerous practice that jeopardizes the safety of the suspected smugglers and the Coast Guard boarding teams.”

Nearly 80% of all known illegal narcotics coming into North America are smuggled by international cartels through the Eastern Pacific corridor — an area greater in size than the entire United States, the Coast Guard said.

Profits from cocaine “allow drug cartels to diversify and fund other illicit trafficking activities including the smuggling of opioids, synthetics, methamphetamines, persons and weapons,” the release said.

“The national security cutter gets you further, faster and delivers more capability once on scene than any other cutter in the history of our service,” Capt. Alan McCabe, Midgett’s commanding officer, said in the release. “I am incredibly proud of the crew’s efforts who made these two seizures possible, and we are eager to conduct future operations throughout the Pacific.”

The $670 million Midgett, the Coast Guard’s eighth national security cutter, will be commissioned Aug. 24 along with its sister ship, the Coast Guard national security cutter Kimball, which arrived last December, in a ceremony that will include Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz.

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