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Coast Guard offloads 18 tons of seized cocaine in San Diego

SAN DIEGO – U.S. Coast Guard personnel in San Diego Thursday offloaded roughly 18 tons of cocaine seized from ocean-going traffickers in the Eastern Pacific in recent months.

The drug haul, intercepted in international waters off the coasts of Central and South America from March through this month, was unloaded by the crew of the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Waesche at 10th Avenue Marine Terminal in Barrio Logan.

The Waesche took part in the operations that netted the seizures along with the cutters Active, Campbell, Confidence, Dependable, Hamilton, Mohawk and Valiant, according to USCG public affairs.

The load of cocaine resulted from 15 interdictions of suspected drug- smuggling vessels, known as pangas, and the capture of bales of the illegal narcotic dumped by suspected smugglers.

"Our nation faces significant threats posed by transnational organized- crime networks that spread violence and instability throughout the Western Hemisphere," said Capt. James Passarelli, commanding officer of the Waesche.

The captain added that his crew "meets those threats head-on, as far from the U.S. border as possible."

During fiscal 2016, the Coast Guard seized more than 416,600 pounds of cocaine and took 585 suspected smugglers into custody in the Eastern Pacific, according to officials with the federal agency.