A Coast Guard ship arrived in San Pedro on Thursday morning after its crew seized $38.5 million worth of cocaine in the eastern Pacific, officials said.
The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Robert Ward and another cutter patrolled the waters off the coasts of Mexico and Central America for 50 days and seized 2,800 pounds of cocaine from suspected smugglers on small vessels as well as bales of cocaine dumped into the ocean, said U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Kroll.
The Robert Ward, first deployed in March, is one of four recently commissioned boats assigned to increase safety and security operations in the Pacific Southwest, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. The vessels can also be used for search and rescues and law enforcement at sea.
A handful of suspected smugglers were detained and will be investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Kroll said. The DEA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Video of one July 16 mission shows a boat crew deployed from the Robert Ward intercepting a small boat and detaining at least three men.
In that interdiction, the Robert Ward crew seized 3,000 pounds of cocaine, which was transferred to another ship and taken to San Diego. After retrieving the drug loads, the ship stayed at sea to look out for other smugglers, Kroll said.
“This was big for us because it was the first major deployment for our fast response cutters,” said Kroll. “It’s already making a major impact.”
Kroll said the newly deployed ships will help to stop the narcotics smugglers and prevent drugs from reaching the streets.