Posted On 12 Jul 2019
The U.S. Coast Guard released video Thursday of service members leaping onto a submarine carrying 17,000 pounds of cocaine as part of a monthslong, $569 million cocaine bust.
A member of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Munro can be seen in the video yelling at an unidentified aquatic vehicle to stop as it moved alongside the cutter at the surface of the Eastern Pacific Ocean. Crew members then jump onto the top of the mostly submerged vessel as it’s moving and bust open the hatch.
A person inside the vessel can be seen briefly just as the hatch opens at the end of the minutelong video.
About 17,000 pounds of cocaine were found inside along with five suspected smugglers, the U.S. Coast Guard told NBC News on Thursday. The estimated street value of the drugs is $232 million.
Self-propelled submersible vessels, often called “narco-subs,” are sometimes used by cartels and traffickers to smuggle drugs across borders.
The operation, which occurred June 18, was one of 14 drug-smuggling vessels intercepted off the coasts of Mexico, Central and South America by three Coast Guard cutters between May and July of this year. A total of 39,000 pounds of cocaine and 933 pounds of marijuana, were seized in that time, for an estimated worth of $569 million, according to a press release Thursday.
Vice President Mike Pence was there as Coast Guard members unloaded the seized drugs in San Diego on Thursday. The operations will lead to the prosecution of 55 alleged smugglers, according to Pence.
“Make no mistake about it, Coasties, your courageous service is saving American lives,” Pence told service members Thursday.
Some of the 55 suspected drug smugglers will be transferred to federal authorities while others will be given to international authorities to be prosecuted in their home countries, the Coast Guard said.
The June seizure was part of the Coast Guard Cutter Munro’s first drug patrol since it was commissioned two years ago. The new vessel is one of six state-of-the-art cutters added to the Coast Guard fleet in recent years and another two have been commissioned in Hawaii, the military branch told NBC News.
About 70 percent of the Coast Guard’s fleet is made up of medium endurance cutters, which are about 50 years old and require costly maintenance.
Courtney Kube contributed.