Coast Guard offloads more than 12 tons of cocaine in Port Everglades

Coast Guard Cutter Escanaba offloaded approximately 12.4 tons of cocaine Thursday in Port Everglades.

The drugs, worth an estimated $378-million, were interdicted in international waters off the Eastern Pacific Ocean between mid-October and late November.

The contraband is from suspected smuggling vessels interdicted in drug-transit zones off the coast of Central and South America by three U.S. Coast Guard cutters and a Royal Canadian Navy ship patrolling with an embarked Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) team.

The bulk offload represents:

  • Five interdictions by the crew of Coast Guard Cutter Escanaba, approximately 6,048 kilograms.
  • Five interdictions by the crew of Coast Guard Cutter Thetis, approximately 4,239 kilograms.      
  • One interdiction by the crew of Coast Guard Cutter Spencer, approximately 515 kilograms.
  • One interdiction by HMCS Nanaimo and an embarked U.S. Coast Guard LEDET, approximately 468 kilograms.

Numerous U.S. agencies from the Departments of Defense, Justice and Homeland Security are involved in the effort to combat transnational organized crime. The Coast Guard, Navy, Customs and Border Protection, FBI, Drug Enforcement Agency, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement along with allied and international partner agencies play a role in counter-drug operations. The fight against transnational organized crime networks in the Eastern Pacific requires unity of effort in all phases of detection, monitoring, and interdictions, to prosecutions.

“I am extremely proud of the professionalism and tireless dedication of the crew of Escanaba,” said Cmdr. Michael Turdo, commanding officer of the cutter Escanaba. “Escanaba seized over 6 tons of cocaine worth an estimated $202 million during the interdiction of five suspected drug smuggling vessels. The crew’s contributions over the past two months directly support our government’s efforts to dismantle smuggling routes used by transnational criminal organizations and interdict drugs at sea bound for the United States.”


A member of the Coast Guard Cutter Escanaba crew speaks to media before the offload of 12.4 tons of cocaine Dec. 7, 2017, aboard the cutter at Port Everglades Cruiseport in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Escanaba offloaded the cocaine in Port Everglades worth an estimated $378 million wholesale interdicted in international waters of the Eastern Pacific Ocean between mid-October and late November. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Eric Woodall)

The Coast Guard, along with U.S. and allied partner agencies, has increased its presence in the Eastern Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Basin as part of its Western Hemisphere Strategy. During at-sea interdictions of these known drug transit zones, a suspect vessel is initially located and tracked by allied military or law enforcement personnel. The interdictions, including the actual boarding, are led and conducted by U.S. Coast Guard personnel. The law enforcement phase of counter-smuggling operations in the Eastern Pacific is conducted under the authority of the 11th Coast Guard District, headquartered in Alameda, California.

Escanaba and Spencer are 270-foot medium endurance cutters homeported in Boston. Thetis is a 270-foot medium endurance cutter based in Key West, Florida, and HMCS Nanaimo is a Royal Canadian Navy Kingston-class coastal defense vessel based in Esquimalt, British Columbia.