'Lives saved': Coast Guard offloads record $1.4 billion in cocaine, marijuana at Florida port

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The U.S. Coast Guard offloaded the largest amount of illegal narcotics in its history – worth more than $1.4 billion – at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, officials announced last week.

The agency on Thursday announced that the crew of the Cutter James offloaded about 59,700 pounds of cocaine and 1,430 pounds of marijuana.

Coast Guard officials said it was the largest offload in the vessel’s history. Multiple Coast Guard units assisted, along with the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol and Canadian partners, the agency said.

The amount is double what was found in the vessel's patrol in fall 2020, said Capt. Todd Vance, a commanding officer on the Cutter James, in a news conference.

The suspected smuggling vessels were stopped by 10 American, Dutch and Canadian ships, the Coast Guard said. Images show the narcotics packed into bales.

"Today's offload is a result of our combined efforts of our interagency partners and a dedicated international coalition," said Vice Adm. Steven Poulin, commander of the Atlantic area.

Poulin said at the news conference that the next steps were to hand the drugs over to the interagency team and work with the U.S. attorney’s office to hold suspected traffickers accountable.

The Coast Guard did not release any information on arrests

The bust was three months in the making, the Coast Guard Southeast said on Twitter.

“Every bale of cocaine on this flight deck that doesn’t make it to our shores represents lives saved in New York City, Philly, Chicago, Los Angeles or any small town in the U.S. that’s dealing with pandemic levels of drug overdoses this year,” Vance said.

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Coast Guard offloads record $1.4B in narcotics at Port Everglades

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