The cutter Waesche docked at a pier. Courtesy Coast Guard

Coast Guard personnel in San Diego on Monday offloaded 21 tons of cocaine seized in international waters of the Eastern Pacific in recent months.

The drug haul, unloaded from the cutter Waesche, were snagged from traffickers off the coasts of Central and South America from February to May by the crews of four U.S. Coast Guard vessels and U.S. and Canadian navy vessels with USCG law enforcement detachments aboard.

The bundles of narcotics were confiscated during 27 smuggling-vessel interdictions and three bale-recovery operations by personnel aboard cutters and Navy ships, including several from Canada.

“I’m extremely proud of all the crews at sea, in the air and ashore who helped plan, coordinate and perform these drug busts,” said Rear Adm. Joseph Servidio, commander of the 11th Coast Guard District.

“Their hard work denies the drug-trafficking organizations millions of dollars in resources and helps save lives by keeping these drugs off our streets.”

As part of its Western Hemisphere strategy, the Coast Guard has increased the U.S. and allied presence in the Eastern Pacific and Caribbean Basin, which are known drug transit zones in the waters off Central and South America, according to USCG public affairs.

During at-sea interdictions in international waters, a suspect vessel is initially located and tracked by allied military or law enforcement aircraft or vessels. The interdictions, including boardings, are led and conducted by Coast Guard personnel.

Coast Guard crews operating from cutters, U.S Navy ships and international partner-nation ships have seized more than 128,000 pounds of cocaine in the Eastern Pacific so far this fiscal year, officials said.

The law enforcement phase of counter-smuggling operations in the Eastern Pacific are conducted under the authority of the 11th Coast Guard District headquartered in Alameda.

— City News Service

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.