14.5 Ton Drug Bust in International Waters



A Royal Canadian Navy vessel was involved in an International anti-drug trafficking mission that led to the seizure of about 14.5 tonnes of cocaine in international waters along the coasts of Central and South America.

What happened?

The U.S. Coast Guard said Tuesday that the drugs were seized in 17 different raids over a period of 26 days.

“When smugglers are racing across the Caribbean or the Pacific, they are not just carrying cocaine, they are delivering violence, corruption, and instability to a part of the world — the Western Hemisphere that just can’t absorb it,” U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Mark Feder told a news conference in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

“It’s a part of the world that already has eight of the 10 most homicidal nations in it,” he said.

HMCS Saskatoon, based at CFB Esquimalt in British Columbia, and a U.S. vessel, Guard LEDET 405 — were involved in one of the raids where about a tonne of cocaine was seized.

Suspicions arose:

According to the Department of National Defence, HMCS Saskatoon intercepted a suspicious vessel and then launched a rigid hulled inflatable boat with a U.S. Coast Guard team. The panga-style vessel was boarded and three suspected smugglers were apprehended. Cocaine was recovered from both the panga and the ocean after the suspected smugglers attempted to jettison their cargo.

The Canadian vessel joined the U.S.-led multinational Operation CARIBBE in February, Canada’s contribution to a multinational campaign against illicit trafficking by criminal organizations in the Eastern Pacific and Caribbean.

30 smugglers detained:

Feder said 30 suspected drug smugglers were detained during the operation, adding that they will be questioned and possibly prosecuted in the U.S.

The cocaine was being offloaded at Fort Lauderdale’s Port Everglades on Tuesday.

Feder said the drug bust shows how “we need to work with our interagency partners as well as our allies to deter this threat and keep it as far from our shores as possible.”

It is not the first time HMCS Saskatoon is involved in a U.S.-led anti-trafficking operation.

“By preventing the flow of illicit drugs and denying unlawful access to the sea, our sailors are effectively interrupting a major funding source for organized crime,” Lt.-Cmdr. Todd Bacon, Commanding Officer of HMCS Saskatoon, said earlier this month.

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Source: The Chronicle Herald


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