The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) intercepted more than 18,000 pounds of cocaine — worth $239 million — in six separate drug busts in November, officials announced Wednesday.
The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Waesche offloaded “approximately 18,219 pounds of cocaine, with an estimated street value of more than $239 million,” in San Diego, California, the USCG said in a news release.
The offload was cumulative of several “suspected drug smuggling vessel interdictions or events” off the coasts of Mexico and Central and South America in November, with the largest find occurring on November 20.
USCG officials reported that they intercepted a “self-propelled semi-submersible (SPSS) carrying more than 5,500 pounds of cocaine” that day, making it the first SPSS interdiction in the Eastern Pacific since 2020.
The other interceptions occurred on November 7, 15, 16, 23, and 24.
Four of the six drug busts were made by the Waesche, while Cutter Active made the other two.
Capt. Robert Mohr, commanding officer of the Waesche, said:
All four of our interdictions on this patrol are crucial to the Coast Guard’s efforts to keep illicit drugs off the streets, but our last interdiction of a semi-submersible vessel was noteworthy since it was the first semi-submersible interdicted in the Eastern Pacific in over three years.
Capt. Mohr expressed his gratitude to his crew members, saying, “They overcame multiple challenges with collective hard work, ingenuity, and positive attitudes to keep us in pursuit of these cartels and their dangerous drugs.”
“A successful patrol like this one is rewarding and leads to better retention and recruiting efforts because everybody feels a sense of accomplishment,” he added.
The Waesche is one of four “Legend-class national security cutters” homeported in Alameda, California, making it one of the largest active patrol cutter boats of the USCG.
Outfitted with technology for command, communication, surveillance, and more, these types of ships are “afloat operational-level headquarters for complex law enforcement and national security missions involving multiple Coast Guard and partner agency participation,” the press release said.
“The significance of keeping this much cocaine from reaching our shores and streets is, no doubt, life-changing,” said U.S. Attorney Tara McGrath. “Without these 9 tons of cocaine on American streets, fewer people will have access to this toxic poison, and hundreds of millions of dollars will not make it into cartel coffers.”
She went on to thank the crew of the Waesche and the entire USCG “for protecting our nation from the devastation, violence, and addiction that cocaine brings to our communities.”