SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — The United States Coast Guard has released video captured during the seizure of a semi-submersible vessel found to have been carrying 6 tons of cocaine in the Eastern Pacific Ocean July 18.
The crew aboard the Alameda-based Coast Guard Cutter Stratton stopped the vessel in international waters off the coast of Central America. The Coast Guard recovered more than 16,000 pounds of cocaine from the 40-foot vessel.
The USCG estimates the wholesale value of the cocaine at more than $181 million.
“Our success intercepting this drug-laden, self-propelled semi-submersible is a testament to the collaboration of our partner agencies, and demonstrates the importance of our increased presence in the Western Hemisphere,” said Vice Adm. Charles W. Ray, commander, Pacific Area. “Every interception of these semi-submersibles disrupts transnational organized crime networks and helps increase security and stability in the Western Hemisphere.”
After removing 12,000 pounds of the narcotics aboard, the crew of Stratton attempted to tow the vessel to shore as evidence; however, the semi-submersible began taking on water and sank. Approximately 4,000 pounds of cocaine left in the SPSS vessel to stabilize it during the towing evolution sank in over 13,000-feet of water and is unrecoverable.
The July 18 semi-submersible seizure is the largest recorded semi-submersible interdiction in Coast Guard history, according to the USCG. Coast Guardsmen aboard Stratton have seized more than 33,000 pounds of cocaine worth more than $540 million wholesale since May 2015.