Coast Guard intercepts drug smuggling sub with $165m in cocaine

Michelle Dolge
September 26, 2019 - 10:25 am
U.S. Coast Guard boarding team members climb aboard a suspected smuggling vessel.

Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Luke Clayton

The Coast Guard has gotten a lot of attention lately for intercepting drug smugglers in international waters.

The latest take was worth over $165 million.

While on routine patrol in the Eastern Pacific, Cutter Valiant’s crew interdicted a 40-foot self-propelled semi-submersible in international waters carrying approximately 12,000 pounds of cocaine, worth over $165 million, and apprehended four suspected drug smugglers.

The semi-submersible was originally detected and monitored by maritime patrol aircraft (MPA), and the Valiant crew was diverted to the area, where they conducted a full law enforcement boarding with the assistance of Colombian Naval assets.

The sub may have been carrying over 12,000 pounds of cocaine, but for safety reasons - they were concerned about the stability of the Coast Guard vessel they were using - the Coasties could only off-load 1,100 pounds of it.  12,000 pounds is a LOT of cocaine.

 12,000 pounds of cocaine, worth over $165 million, intercepted by Coast Guard.
Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Luke Clayton

According to Valiant’s commanding officer, the interdiction coincided with a time-honored mariner’s milestone - the tradition of crossing the equator.

"There are no words to describe the feeling Valiant crew is experiencing right now,” said Cmdr. Matthew Waldron, Valiant’s Commanding Officer. “In a 24-hour period, the crew both crossed the equator and intercepted a drug-laden self-propelled semi-submersible vessel. Each in and of themselves is momentous events in any cutterman's career. Taken together, however, it is truly remarkably unprecedented This interdiction was an all-hands-on-deck evolution, and each crew member performed above and beyond the call of duty. Additionally, we could not have successfully completed this interdiction without the love and support of our families back home, many of whom evacuated from Jacksonville this week for Hurricane Dorian. To the Valiant families, a heartfelt ‘Thank You!’”

The Valiant is a multi-mission 210-foot Medium-Endurance Cutter commissioned in 1967. 

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