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U.S. Coast Guard offloads $1 billion worth of narcotics

The haul of illegal narcotics brought home by the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter James was one of the biggest in recent memory.
Credit: AP
Journalists, politicians, and federal officials stand along with members of the U.S. Coast Guard and other law enforcement agencies, as they view more than one billion dollars worth of seized cocaine and marijuana aboard Coast Guard Cutter James at Port Everglades, Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The Coast Guard said the haul included approximately 54,500 pounds of cocaine and 15,800 pounds of marijuana from multiple interdictions in the Caribbean Sea and the eastern Pacific. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A U.S. Coast Guard vessel offloaded Thursday more than 30 metric tons of cocaine and marijuana worth over $1 billion that was seized at sea during a months-long deployment off the coast of South America.

The haul of illegal narcotics brought home by the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter James was one of the biggest in recent memory.

It's a reflection of an increasingly sophisticated U.S. arsenal but also a recent surge in narcotics coming from Colombia, the world’s top producer of cocaine.

The Biden administration’s top anti-narcotics officials traveled to South Florida to welcome back the vessel’s crew and tout the Coast Guard’s role in interdicting drugs before they reach American streets. 

“We are hitting the drug traffickers where it hits them most: their pocketbooks,” said Dr. Rahul Gupta, head of the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Gupta said the Biden administration is looking to increase the U.S. government’s budget to build up the nation’s addiction treatment infrastructure and reduce the supply of synthetic opioids like fentanyl and other drugs.  

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