Sessions announces record-breaking drug seizures during San Diego visit

SAN DIEGO -- U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions was on hand in San Diego Wednesday as the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Stratton offloaded 50,000 pounds of cocaine and heroin -- with an estimated street value of more than $679 million -- that was seized in the Eastern Pacific Ocean since Aug. 2.

The Coast Guard announced that it has intercepted a record amount of illicit drugs in the Eastern Pacific in fiscal year 2017, including a San Diego-based prosecution involving more than 6,000 pounds of cocaine confiscated from a low-profile vessel, which is designed to ride low in the water to avoid detection.

Four men were indicted and charged with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute in the San Diego case.

"By preventing overdoses and stopping new addictions before they start, enforcing our drug laws saves lives," Sessions said. "This record-breaking year by our Coast Guard saw the arrest of more than 500 suspected drug traffickers and kept nearly half a million pounds of dangerous drugs from getting to our streets, and ultimately to our neighbors, friends and families. I commend every service member who has helped us in our mission to keep the American people safe, and I thank them for this indispensable contribution to public safety."

Acting U.S. Attorney Alana W. Robinson said the seizure of the cocaine in the Eastern Pacific means tens of thousands of pounds of the illicit drug won't make it into San Diego and hundreds of millions of dollars won't go into cartel coffers.

"To drug traffickers who may think they are invisible in the middle of what seems to be a vast, empty ocean: You are not alone. We are doing everything we can to prevent you from using the high seas as your personal freeway," Robinson said.

Edinson Elias Castillo-Bustos, Redis Mina-Canga and Jose Sebastian Ardila-Meza, all from Colombia, and Edgar Anibal Rojas-Vanegas, of Guatemala, remain in custody in San Diego pending trial. They will be back in court Oct. 16.