US Coast Guard makes region’s largest coke bust since 1999
SAN JUAN – The US Coast Guard confiscated 4.2 tons of cocaine last week off the coast of Suriname. Four Guyanese men have been apprehended in connection with the bust that, according to Coast Guard, is the largest maritime seizure in the Atlantic since 1999.
The bust was made on February 16 by the US Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Napier, after it interdicted the 70-foot fishing vessel Lady Michelle sailing late at night off Suriname, in international waters in the Atlantic Ocean. On board the suspicious fishing vessel the officers seized numerous bales of contraband, which tested positive for cocaine. Its estimated wholesale value was placed at US $125 million.
The four Guyanese nationals were taken into custody and a Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard cutter, which was on a joint patrol with the Joseph Napier, provided safety and escort assistance as US Coast Guard Cutter Vigilant towed the fishing vessel to St. Vincent; the Lady Michelle flies the Vincentian flag.
The contraband was transported to Puerto Rico, where it was offloaded and placed in the custody of US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Caribbean Division special agents for processing and disposition.
Captain Robert Warren, Coast Guard Sector San Juan commander called the operation an excellent coordination between the US Coast Guard and Caribbean law enforcement agencies. And James Doby, Assistant Special Agent in Charge (ASAC) DEA Caribbean Division said: “As the cocaine flow from South America continues to increase, law enforcement partners in the Eastern Caribbean Region have to increase our collaborative efforts in order to effectively respond to the threat.”