Coast Guard nabs half-billion dollar haul of smuggled cocaine

The eight drug smuggling boats were intercepted in February and March off the coasts of Mexico, Central and South America.
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The Coast Guard Cutter Munro crew intercepted drug smugglers carrying close to half a billion dollars worth of cocaine off the coasts of Mexico and Central and South America earlier this year.(U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Matthew West/Released)

The Coast Guard Cutter Munro intercepted drug smugglers carrying close to a half-billion dollars worth of cocaine off the coasts of Mexico and Central and South America earlier this year.

The Munro arrived in San Diego last week with nearly 33,768 pounds of cocaine seized from eight smuggling vessels in February and March. The cocaine would be valued at $468 million, according to the Coast Guard.

The Munro’s deployment was the final patrol for its commanding officer, Capt. Rula Deisher who took command of the Cutter Munro in May 2022. She credited the ship’s crew with the major haul.

“Their dedication and grit goes to show that Munro is one of the best national security cutters in the fleet, and we are committed to keeping the country safe by stopping illegal drugs before they hit the street. There isn’t a better crew to serve with and I’m honored to have spent my final patrol with them.”

The Munro is homeported in Alameda, Calif. It is the sixth Legend Class National Security Cutter equipped with “automated weapons systems capable of stopping rogue vessels far from shore” made up of command control equipment and advanced sensors. The ship is commonly deployed throughout the Pacific Rim, including Asian ports calls, work in the dangerous fishing grounds off Alaska and drug interdiction off Mexico and Central America.

The seizure was the second time the Coast Guard has brought nearly a half-billion dollars in seized narcotics to shore in less than a year. In October, an operation led by the Coast Guard Cutter James seized $448 million worth of cocaine and marijuana from smugglers in the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea.

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Coast Guard responsibilities include maritime law enforcement which regularly involves interrupting drug smuggling operations from South America to the U.S. The guard operates through the Western Hemisphere transit zone, a six million square mile area of smuggling routes spanning the eastern Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean Sea. In fiscal year 2022, the Coast Guard interdicted more than 335,000 pounds of cocaine.

Counter-smuggling operations in the Eastern Pacific Ocean are conducted under the authority of the Eleventh Coast Guard District which is headquartered in Alameda, California. The district commander, Rear Adm. Andrew Sugimoto said the amount of drugs interdicted by the Munro Crew was exceptional.

“The effort put in while interdicting more than 33,000 lbs of cocaine in a few weeks’ time is unparalleled,” Sugimoto said. “We will continue our commitment to stopping these criminals and the vast amounts of drugs they attempt to bring into our country.” 

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