The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) intercepted more than 14,000 pounds of cocaine worth over $186 million in multiple seizures across international waters, the agency said Saturday.
Coast Guard crews offloaded the illegal narcotics in Miami on Friday following nine separate seizures in the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, the Coast Guard said in a news release.
Multiple USCG crews and a U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Air and Marine Operations aircrew intercepted the suspected smugglers.
Officials said 12 suspected smugglers were also taken into custody and face federal prosecution.
Bales of illegal drugs, worth an estimated $186 million, are offloaded off U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Bear (WMEC 901) in Miami June 16, 2023. The offloaded drugs were interdicted from nine separate go-fast smuggling interdictions in the international waters of the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. (Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Eric Rodriguez)
Production and demand of cocaine has spiked around the world over the past two years, according to a March report released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. The report found the surge in supply followed an initial slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.