(NEW YORK) — A recent series of drug busts off the coasts of Mexico, Central and South America has yielded big results – part of what authorities say is on track to be a record-setting year for drug seizures.
U.S. Coast Guard and the Royal Canadian Navy cutters intercepted a total of 12 tons of cocaine and one ton of marijuana, which officials from both countries showed off to reporters in Fort Lauderdale Wednesday.
The value of those drugs on the street: $390 million dollars.
“This year we were already on pace to equal what we interdicted last year, and what we interdicted last year was a record and what we interdicted the year before that was a record,” Cmdr. Jonathan Carter of the U.S. Coast Guard said.
The interdictions took place off in international waters off the coasts of Mexico, Central and South America with the help of Canadian forces.
“These drugs are coming to our streets and these drugs also create instability for our regional partners south of the border,” Carter said, according to ABC News affiliate WPLG.
The smugglers used semi-submersibles – specifically designed to evade law enforcement – built low to rise just six inches above the water line.
Seventeen of drug smuggling boats were stopped and 11 drug smugglers were detained.
According to the 2017 National Drug Assessment put out by the Drug Enforcement Administration, cocaine deaths have been on the rise since 2014. The cause is an increase in cocaine production in Columbia, which is the primary supplier for the United States.
About 92% of all cocaine the DEA seized in the United States in 2016 was of Colombian origin with the other six percent being of Peruvian origin.
After a dip in deaths since 2006, 2014 saw an uptick and law enforcement officials say that trend continues.
In Florida in 2015 for example, cocaine overdoses were the second-biggest cause of drug-related deaths.
The DEA says that distribution along the southwest border remains the key method that drugs – but specifically cocaine – get into the country.
The majority of drug seizures featured in the 2017 report occurred near San Diego.
Over the weekend, Customs and Border Patrol Agents seized almost $650,000 dollars worth of cocaine on the U.S.-Mexico border.
The bust on the Juarez-Lincoln International bridge near Laredo, Texas, yielded 83 pounds of alleged cocaine that was concealed in 33 packages that had a street value of $638,520 according to CBP.
Drugs enter the United States by planes, trains and automobiles. In December 2016 the Puerto Rican Police department and Homeland Security officials seized 37 pounds of cocaine at Luis Munoz Marin International Airport. The individual arrested was attempting to go from Puerto Rico to New York.
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the United States ranks third in countries who use the most cocaine behind Albania and Scotland.
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