The Alameda, California based U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Waesche offloaded 39,000 pounds of cocaine Thursday at Naval Base San Diego– including a large bust from a narco sub.
The self-propelled semi-submersible, or SPSS, was stopped in the Pacific Ocean off Central America on September 6.
Upon sighting the vessel, the cutter launched two fast pursuit boats with boarding teams and an armed helicopter crew to interdict the SPSS. Five suspects, apprehended by the Coasties (where are you going to go in open ocean?) attempted to scuttle the dope boat as water filled the smuggler to just below the helm.
Waesche crew members boarded the sinking vessel and were able to dewater it using portable pumps, allowing boarding officers to safely remove over 5,600 pounds of cocaine from the SPSS. It is the sixth such submersible captured this year by the service and the 43rd total.
According to a fact sheet from the service, the Coast Guardsmen apprehended a total 585 suspected drug smugglers in Fiscal Year 2016– a new record for the service, up from 503 suspected drug smugglers last year.
“These prosecutions erode and undermine the supply channels critical to the operations of drug kingpins who prey on our citizens with highly addictive drugs and spread violence throughout our hemisphere,” said Vice Adm. Fred Midgette, commander, Coast Guard Pacific Area, in a statement. “From 2002 to 2011, information obtained from suspects apprehended by the Coast Guard contributed to the arrest and extradition of more than 75 percent of drug kingpins.”
The crew of Waesche offloaded more than 39,000 pounds of cocaine, worth over $531 million, interdicted on her latest patrol, in San Diego Thursday morning.