SAN DIEGO -- The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Boutwell returned to Naval Base San Diego Monday following a 90-day deployment, carrying more than 14 tons of cocaine nabbed from seafaring narcotics smugglers.
The drug haul, seized by U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Navy personnel in 18 busts off the coast of Central and South America, would have been worth an estimated $423 million in street sales, according to Coast Guard public affairs.
A total of 55 suspects were arrested during the operations, officials said.
Vice Adm. Charles Ray, Pacific-area commander of the Coast Guard, recognized the achievements of the crew of the 378-foot Boutwell following its morning homecoming.
“These Coast Guard men and women successfully confronted the risks brought on by the rising threat of transnational organized-crime networks, which must be confronted to ensure maritime safety, efficiency and security in the Western Hemisphere,'' Ray said.