After four months at sea, a US Coast Guard mission has returned to shore carrying $1bn in confiscated cocaine and heroin, hailed by officials as the largest drug off-load in history. The mission arrived to the naval base in San Diego, California, with 32 metric tonnes of cocaine and two tonnes of heroin – a weight equivalent to 17 average-sized cars. The entire cargo took more than four hours to unload.
“There is still work to be done,” Admiral Paul Zukunft, commandant of the coastguard, said in a statement. “We must increase already hard-earned momentum to curb the rising tide of crime, violence and instability in our hemisphere.” Composed of three vessels skirting around the coasts of Mexico, Central, and South America, the mission seized contraband through 30 separate interdictions of smuggling vessels. The operation lasted from April to July and was led by the coastguard cutter Stratton.
The drugs were all destined for the US, where the cocaine alone would have amounted to 33 million “lines” for snorting, according to the US Drug Enforcement Administration. Wholesale value of the entire cargo exceeded $1bn. “I’m not in the market of selling this, but trust me, on the street it would sell for much more,” Zukunft added.