More than 9 tons of cocaine from six separate drug smuggling incidents were dumped in San Diego on Wednesday, authorities said.

The cocaine has an estimated street value of more than $239 million. It was recovered in November by two U.S. Coast Guard ships off the coasts of Mexico, Central America and South America, the USCG said in a news release.

The largest cargo, weighing more than 5,500 pounds, was recovered Nov. 20 by the Coast Guard Cutter Waesche. She was found on a drug submarine.

“Our recent semisubmersible interdiction was notable as it was the first semisubmersible interdicted in the Eastern Pacific in over three years,” said Capt. Robert Mohr, the Waesche’s commander.

The Coast Guard Cutter Waesche is a 418-foot National Security Cutter, a type of ship used in support of maritime homeland security and defense missions. The ship is one of eight in its class operated by the Coast Guard and is homeported in Alameda, California.

Coast Guard Active, a smaller ship used primarily for law enforcement and search and rescue missions, recovered nearly 4,000 pounds. Cocaine from two of the six operations.

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection statistics, more than 40 tons of cocaine were seized in 2023, making it the third most seized drug after marijuana and methamphetamines.

U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California Tara McGrath thanked the Coast Guard for its support in the fight against drug cartels in the state.

“Stopping so much cocaine from reaching our shores and streets is undoubtedly life-changing,” McGrath said. “Without these 9 tons of cocaine on American streets, fewer people will have access to this toxic poison and hundreds of millions of dollars will not reach cartel coffers.”

According to 2020 statistics from the U.S. Sentencing Commission, the average sentence for trafficking powder cocaine was five and a half years.

In 2019, 15,000 kilograms of cocaine worth $1 billion were seized at a shipping port in Philadelphia, one of the largest drug seizures in U.S. history.

Source : www.nbcnews.com

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