US Navy Seizes Expected $22 Million Cocaine Haul In Caribbean Sea
A US Navy vessel has made a seizure of more than $22 million worth of cocaine after intercepting a drug smuggling boat in the Caribbean Sea.
The USS Milwaukee – a littoral combat ship used for near-shore operations – was called into action on January 7 after a military patrol aircraft spotted a suspicious 'go-fast' vessel in the Caribbean.
The ship deployed a helicopter and an inflatable rig to intercept the speedboat, which was subsequently boarded by the Coast Guard detachment serving on board the Milwaukee.
During the search, they discovered a huge haul of the Class A substance, with approximately 315 kilograms of cocaine confiscated from the vessel. The origins of the vessel and its suspected destination have not been made public by the navy, however the drugs found on board have an estimated street value of approximately $22 million.
Five suspects on board the vessel were subsequently detained.
In a press release announcing the seizure reported by the Navy Times, USS Milwaukee Commanding Officer Brian Forster said, 'There is an electric atmosphere onboard anytime we can accomplish a mission that has a direct impact on making America safer; it contributes to that winning mindset.'
He continued, 'The crew is excited to have accomplished our first boarding, and they performed flawlessly from start to finish. It is a good feeling knowing that a large number of drugs will not make it onto the streets of America or our partners in the Caribbean.'
The seizure came during the USS Milwaukee's first deployment since the ship was grounded in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba as a result of a Covid-19 outbreak on board in December.
Based out of Jacksonville, Florida, the US 4th Fleet operates regular patrols of the Caribbean and South American coast to deter illegal drug smuggling operations in the region. The British Royal Navy also operates in the region as part of the UK’s Caribbean Task Group, and has made similar seizures from smalls boats attempting to smuggle via the Caribbean Sea.
In September, the Navy revealed that a British vessel – RFA Wave Knight – had intercepted around 216 kilograms of cocaine with a street value of £17.28 million from a boat, after smugglers attempted to dump the drugs overboard.
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