Coast Guard, Canadian Navy Seize 26.5 Tons of Cocaine; 100 Suspected Drug Smugglers Apprehended

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More than 26 tons of cocaine worth an estimated wholesale value of $715 million have been seized by the US Coast Guard and Royal Canadian Navy, officials said Thursday.

Members of the Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton crew stand next to approximately 26.5 tons of cocaine Dec. 15, 2016 aboard the cutter at Port Everglades Cruiseport in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. (Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Eric D. Woodall)

Members of the Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton crew stand next to approximately 26.5 tons of cocaine Dec. 15, 2016 aboard the cutter at Port Everglades Cruiseport in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. (Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Eric D. Woodall)

Approximately 100 suspected drug smugglers were apprehended at sea and turned over to federal authorities, said Vice Adm. Karl Schultz, commander of the U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area. The inter-agency operation intercepted 27 shipments and five bale recovery efforts over the course of 10 weeks, Schultz said.

The 26.5 tons of cocaine were unloaded in South Florida Thursday and Schultz said the drugs came from several areas of South America, including “the Andean Ridge, Bolivia, Peru and Colombia.”

Coast Guard teams have been aboard several ships and have been seizing drugs since Oct. 1.

“This not only showcases the threat posed by dangerous cartels, gangs and criminal groups that make up extensive transitional organized crime networks, but it also highlights the commitment of the Coast Guard and its inter-agency partners…to detect, interdict, investigate and prosecute operatives for these criminal networks,” Schultz said in a statement.