The United States Coast Guard seized a record 355,000 pounds of cocaine over the past year. This tops the previous record of 303,000 pounds in 2005. The estimated street value of the cocaine seized is $4.7 billion.
This fiscal year brought a new record of cocaine seizure for the United States Coast Guard with a reported 355,000 pounds of cocaine intercepted on drug routes to the United States. The estimated street value of the total cocaine seized is $4.7 billion dollars.
The largest cocaine interception was recorded on March 18, 2007. The USCG maritime patrol C-130 aircraft spotted the Gatun, a Panamanian-flagged motor vessel. The Gutan was seize by the USCGC Hamilton and the USCGC Sherman approximately 20 miles southwest off the Isla de Cioba, Panama. It contained over 33,500 pounds or 20 tons of cocaine.
The recent success in drug seizure has led to extreme measures by drug smugglers like traveling through indirect and dangerous sea routes. Transportation methods now involve more costly methods such as use of expensive semi-submersibles and liquid cocaine.
Some examples of which include the following seizures made by the USCG: In September, the Coast Guard and its partners interdicted a vessel loaded with 3,600 gallons of cocaine dissolved in diesel fuel, a technique used by smugglers to avoid detection. The liquid cocaine could be converted into 15,800 pounds of pure cocaine.
In August, Coast Guard, Navy and Customs and Border Protection crews interdicted and boarded a self-propelled, semi-submersible vessel loaded with an estimated $352 million of cocaine.
The USCG will be meeting with Officials from the Department of Defense, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Customs and Border Patrol, as well as representatives from France, United Kingdom, Panama and Mexico. U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Thad Allen will be announcing the record seizure as well as discuss the success of the USCG has forced drug smugglers to adopt the dangerous and expensive tactics. Other speakers at the event being held today at noon include John Walters, director, White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and Mike Braun, chief of operations, Drug Enforcement Agency.
John Walters feels the record drug seizure is evidence that United States drug policy and enforcement has helped drive up cocaine prices. However drug policy critics do not think the raise in price is a permanent action, but rather a temporary and does not "reflect and significant advance in fighting drugs."
"When you're looking at proclamations of success and seizure indicators like this, skepticism about the ultimate impact on the market is always in order," said drug policy expert John Walsh of the Washington Office on Latin America, a group that monitors the impact of U.S. foreign policy on the region. "It may be evidence of stepped up or more efficient enforcement, but at the same time it may be evidence of more cocaine being trafficked."