Astoria Coast Guard crew seizes 12,000 pounds of cocaine during 50-day counterdrug patrol

Coast Guard Cutter Steadfast boarding team members intercept a suspected Low Profile Vessel with approximately 3,203 pounds of cocaine onboard in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, Nov. 30, 2017. LPVs are designed to be low profile and colored to blend in with the ocean, making them difficult for law enforcement to detect. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

ASTORIA, Ore. – A Coast Guard cutter crew from Astoria seized 12,000 pounds of cocaine while on a 50-day counterdrug patrol in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.

The crew returned on Dec. 24.

According to the Coast Guard, the massive amount of cocaine seized has an estimated street value of more than $180 million wholesale.

The crew was patrolling international waters off the coasts of Mexico and Central America. They were disrupting Transnational Organized Crime networks through joint interagency counterdrug operations.

The crewmembers interdicted five vessels that they say were involved in suspected illegal drug smuggling.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the hard work and dedication of my crew, and the men and women of the interagency aircrews and support networks ashore,” said Cmdr. Alain Balmaceda, the crew’s commanding officer. “Knowing we stopped tons of drugs from reaching America’s shores and the streets of our allied nations in Central and South America made this deployment over the holidays even more rewarding.”

The crew also rescued three fishermen who were stranded 300 miles off the coast of Mexico because of an engine failure.

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