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Coasties Seize Coke Southwest of Panama

Coast Guardsmen from the Cutter Bertholf from Alameda, Calif., seize more than 12,800 pounds of cocaine and apprehend four suspected drug smugglers from a self-propelled semisubmersible about 300 miles southwest of Panama March 3. (USCG)

Coast Guardsmen from the Cutter Bertholf from Alameda, California, seize more than 12,800 pounds of cocaine and apprehend four suspected drug smugglers from a self-propelled semisubmersible about 300 miles southwest of Panama March 3. (USCG)

The United States Coast Guard, Pacific Southwest District, based out of Alameda, announced today the crew of the cutter Bertholf, based in Alameda, seized more than 12,800 pounds of cocaine and apprehended four suspected drug smugglers from a vessel about 300 miles southwest of Panama on March 3rd.

According to a media release the crew of the Bertholf was notified by a Customs and Border Protection aircraft about the semi-submersible boat which was laden with more than $203 million worth of cocaine.

“Transnational organized crime groups continue to adjust their tactics to avoid detection indicated by a recent rise in the use of SPSS vessels,” said Vice Admiral Charles Ray, commander, Pacific Area. “Despite these efforts, we will continue to execute an offensive strategy that targets, attacks and disrupts these dangerous criminal networks.”

The semi-submersible vessels travel with a mostly submerged hull, with only a cockpit and exhaust pipe just above water, making them difficult to detect.

Guardsmen from Bertholf entered the interdicted boat numerous times to retrieve contraband and evidence.

Boarding officers also discovered a loaded gun in the cockpit.

Alameda-based national security seized almost 68,000 pounds of cocaine in the Eastern Pacific ocean in Fiscal Year 2015.

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