Coast Guard seizes $3M in drugs from smugglers - WCIV-TV | ABC News 4 - Charleston News, Sports, Weather

Coast Guard seizes $3M in drugs from smugglers

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MIAMI (WCIV) -- Coast Guard crewmembers seized on Friday nearly 3,500 pounds of marijuana from drug runners during a patrol in the Caribbean Sea.

The drugs, taken during Operation Martillo, were valued at $3 million. Coast Guard officials said the suspected drug smugglers jettisoned another 89 bales of marijuana into the water after the crew of the HNLMS Friesland gave pursuit.

According to the Coast Guard, the drugs were later transferred to the Cutter Gallatin crew, who then passed it on toe Drug Enforcement Agency members.

"This seizure is another excellent example of how the U.S. Coast Guard partners with our European allies to combat illicit trafficking in the Caribbean Sea in order to keep drugs from reaching American and European soil," said Capt. Brendan McPherson, Seventh Coast Guard District chief of enforcement.

Officials said Operation Martillo is an international operation focused on sharing information and bringing together air, land, and maritime assets from the U.S. Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, and Western Hemisphere and European partner agencies to combat drug trafficking.

"Since Operation Martillo began in January 2012, we have collectively seized more than $5 billion of cocaine and $32 million marijuana. Our success in keeping these drugs off our streets also limits the negative effects they have on regional stability in the Central American isthmus. I commend the crew of the HNLMS Friesland for their contributions to this important operation," McPherson said.

The Coast Guard Cutter Gallatin is a 378-foot high-endurance cutter based out of Charleston.

High endurance cutters like the Gallatin are built for long-term offshore patrols, Coast Guard officials said. The Gallatin and similar ships offer enhanced communications and helicopter and pursuit boat operations.

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