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Coast Guard seizes $186 million worth of drugs in international waters

In addition to the drug seizure, the Coast Guard says 12 suspected smugglers were arrested.
Posted at 12:45 PM, Jun 17, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-18 08:06:24-04

The U.S. Coast Guard made a major drug bust in international waters. 

In a press release, the Coast Guard said several of its crews and Customs and Border Protection intercepted more than 14,000 pounds of cocaine in the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.

"This teamwork is imperative to the identification, interception, and seizure of vessels engaged in illicit trafficking and a testament to the hard work of these crews," said Lt. Peter Hutchison, duty enforcement officer at Coast Guard District Seven.

The drugs were offloaded in Miami on Friday and likely set to be destroyed. 

In addition to the drug seizure, the Coast Guard says 12 suspected smugglers were arrested. They were turned over to the Department of Justice. 

Soldiers uproot coca shrubs as part of a manual eradication operation in San Jose del Guaviare, Colombia

Report: Cocaine production reaches all-time high

An expansion of coca bush cultivation is being blamed for the surge in cocaine production.


The Global Cocaine Trade has only continued to grow. The National Institute on Drug Abuse says about five million Americans used cocaine in 2021. 

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime says 21 million people globally use the drug. It estimates global cocaine production has skyrocketed from 800 tons in 1998 to 2,000 tons today. 

Colombia produces 90% of the American supply, the U.S. says, though Bolivia, Peru and Brazil also contribute.  

"The contraband offloaded... represents the professional expertise and dedication of U.S. defense and law enforcement agencies working together to combat the flow of illicit drugs through the Caribbean Region into the United States," Hutchison said.