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What does $1 billion of cocaine and marijuana look like? The Coast Guard shows you

More than a billion dollars’ worth of drugs seized at sea is displayed on the flight deck of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter James on Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022. The 54,000 pounds of cocaine and 15,800 pounds of marijuana seized in the Pacific and Caribbean were offloaded at Port Everglades. JOE CAVARETTA SOUTH FLORIDA SUN SENTINEL

The Coast Guard and other federal officials showed off more than a billion dollars’ worth of cocaine and marijuana Thursday that was confiscated from smugglers during several recent operations in the Pacific Ocean and more nearby in the Caribbean Sea.

The agency seized 54,500 pounds of cocaine and 15,800 pounds of marijuana, officials said Thursday at a briefing at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. The total street value is estimated to be $1.06 billion, the Coast Guard said.

A haul that large means “a lot of sad walks to doors that will never have to occur,” said South Florida Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, referring to overdose deaths that might be prevented with the drugs off the street.

The congresswoman made the remarks at the media briefing and was joined by other officials in front of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter James, which was docked at Port Everglades.

It wasn’t the Coast Guard’s largest seizure, but it was for the James, a “national security cutter,” which is the largest and most technologically advanced type of ship the service deploys.

The seizure also comes on the heels of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting that fatal drug overdoses in the country topped more than 100,000 annually from April 2020 to April 2021 — up almost 30 percent from the previous 12-month time frame. The number reflects an increase in cocaine deaths as well.

“Our country is losing an American every five minutes around the clock,” Rahul Gupta, director of the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy, said at the news conference.

The drugs brought in by the James were the result of operations off the Eastern Pacific and Caribbean involving four other cutters, the U.S. Navy and the Royal Netherlands Navy, said Adm. Karl Schultz, commandant of the Coast Guard.

To Read The Rest Of This Article By David Goodhue on Miami Herald

Published: February 17, 2022

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