October 21, 2005

Coast Guard sets record for seized cocaine

COAST GUARD ISLAND, California (Reuters) - The U.S. Coast
Guard said on Friday it intercepted a record 150 tons of
cocaine at sea during the past year, preventing an estimated
$9.6 billion of the illegal drug from entering the United

Displaying 11.5 tons of cocaine seized in three recent
interdictions of smuggling boats off the Pacific coasts of
Cental America and South America, Coast Guard Rear Adm. Kevin
Eldridge vowed to break the 150-ton record, which had topped
the 120 tons intercepted in the prior fiscal year.

"The Coast Guard and its partners will not be satisfied
with a lesser performance next year," Eldridge said at a news
conference on Coast Guard Island near San Francisco.

The agency's statistics referred to their most recent
fiscal year ending on September 30.

Standing next to several dozen blocks of cocaine guarded by
heavily armed Coast Guard officials, Vice Admiral Harvey
Johnson said the Coast Guard made a dozen interdictions in the
eastern Pacific Ocean with its ocean-going cutters at the same
time other units had deployed for Hurricane Katrina.

The blocks of cocaine have an estimated street value of
$750 million, marking a significant seizure by the Hamilton,
one of 10 378-foot (115 meter) Coast Guard cutters deployed
along the west coast of the United States, according to
Hamilton officer Lt. j.g. Robert Hill.

Other than small amounts needed as evidence, the seized
cocaine will be incinerated, officials said.