Members of the U.S. Coast Guard and British Virgin Islands authorities recently seized about 1,700 kilograms of cocaine with a value of about $51 million off the coast of Anegada.

According to a U.S. Coast Guard press release, no one was arrested as part of the joint effort between the U.S. Coast Guard and British Virgin Islands police officers as smugglers fled the area after dropping at least 57 packages of cocaine into the sea.

Multi-Agency Effort Stops Caribbean Drug Trafficking Attempt

The multi-agency effort has dismantled major Caribbean drug trafficking, which resulted in the seizure of cocaine with an estimated "wholesale value" of approximately $51 million. 

The Coast Guard said multiple agencies, including the Caribbean Border Interagency Group and the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force, were involved in the disruption and seizure of the drugs.

On Friday, the Coast Guard cutter Richard Etheridge crew offloaded the 1,700 kilograms of seized cocaine at the Coast Guard Base San Juan in Puerto Rico.

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Drug Interception at the Caribbean

The seizure happened during a routine patrol on the night of August. 27. The Coast Guard Cutter Richard Etheridge, a 157-foot fast response cutter homeported in Miami, responded to the sighting of a go-fast vessel in waters northeast of the British Virgin Islands.

The Coast Guard watchstanders in Sector San Juan directed the launch of a Coast Guard MH-60T aircraft from Air Station Borinquen to assist cutter Richard Etheridge in locating the position of the go-fast vessel.

Coast Guard and British Virgin Islands authorities continued with their communication to stop the suspected go-fast vessel. As the cutter Richard Etheridge closed in on the vessel, the smugglers proceeded to throw their cargo and flee the area at high speed.

The Coast Guard helicopter crew then proceeded to assist cutter Richard Etheridge in locating the jettisoned cargo. In total, members of cutter Richard Etheridge recovered 57 bales, which tested positive for cocaine.

Coast Guard Sector San Juan commander Capt. Gregory H. Magee said that despite the challenging sea state conditions, both crews displayed an outstanding job disrupting a major shipment of cocaine and kept the drugs from ever reaching the streets, Seapower Magazine reported.

Magee further noted that their strong partnership with the British Virgin Islands and island nations throughout their area of responsibility resulted in safe and secure maritime borders from drug traffickers and other smuggling attempts in the Eastern Caribbean.

Head of Intelligence for the Royal Virgin Islands Police, Detective Inspector Mike Jones, said the interception was a great example of the close working relationship between the U.S. and the U.K. in overseas territories.

Jones noted that the excellent work of the U.S. Coast Guard forced the crew of the go-fast vessel to jettison their shipment. He added that they would continue to work closely with all agencies and partners to disrupt and detect the movement of narcotics, illegal money, and the individuals behind the trafficking.

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Written By: Jess Smith

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