Tuesday, April 24, 2007
The United States Coast Guard seized more than 38,000 pounds (17.2 metric tonnes) of cocaine in what was described as the largest maritime drug bust in history, authorities said. The US Coast Guard was set to unload around 40,000 pounds of the drug following three separate raids off the coast of Central America during February in March, a statement said. The raids included one bust where 38,000 pounds of cocaine, said to be worth 500 million dollars, was seized after the US coast guard swooped on a Panamanian-registered boat off the coast of Panama on March 18.
Coast Guard Cutter Sherman, cruising alongside the Panamanian flagged motor vessel Gatun off the coast of PanamaWhen US authorities boarded the vessel they found the record cocaine haul stuffed into 765 bales. The boat and its 14 crew members were escorted back to Panama for further legal action. US Coast Guard petty officer Alan Haraf told AFP the previous record cocaine busts were a haul of 30,000 pounds in 2004 and 26,300 pounds in 2001. The statement said drug-trafficking routes through the Pacific Ocean onto America's western seaboard were among the most popular used by smugglers, accounting for roughly 70 percent of cocaine seized by the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard has prevented around two million pounds of cocaine from reaching America's streets since 1973, the statement added.