Coast Guard unloads 1,800 pounds of cocainePosted on January 23, 2007
The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Bear offloaded more than 1,800 pounds of cocaine in Key West today after it was seized in the Caribbean Sea last month.The crew of the Bear detected a vessel on radar December 19 and flew a deployed MH-68 Sting Ray helicopter based out of Jacksonville, Fla., to identify the large fishing vessel. With permission of the flag state coordinated by the Coast Guard's Seventh District Command Center, a boarding team from the Bear conducted an extensive, 16-hour boarding. Boarding team members discovered the contraband hidden below concrete in the fish hold. With the flag state's authorization, the boarding team detained the crew and vessel pending the outcome of diplomatic discussions regarding where the crew members might be prosecuted. The Bear's Command Chief stated that the seizure reminded each crew member of their important role as a member of the Department of Homeland Security protecting our borders against maritime threats. "With such tangible results, it's easier for our families to understand the importance of our mission and our absence during the holiday season." The contraband was offloaded and transferred to federal officers representing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The Bear is a 270-foot medium endurance cutter home ported in Portsmouth, Va.