Coast Guard crew from Astoria seizes 12,000 pounds of cocaine du - KPTV - FOX 12

Coast Guard crew from Astoria seizes 12,000 pounds of cocaine during 50-day mission

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Photo: US Coast Guard Photo: US Coast Guard
ASTORIA, OR (KPTV) -

A Coast Guard cutter from Astoria was involved in the seizure of 12,000 pounds of cocaine during a 50-day mission in the Eastern Pacific.

The Steadfast crew patrolled international waters off the coasts of Mexico and Central America to disrupt organized crime networks as part of joint interagency counterdrug operations.  

The Steadfast returned home to Astoria on Dec. 24.

The Coast Guard reports that the Steadfast stopped five vessels believed to be involved in the smuggling of drugs.

The stops resulted in the seizure of around 12,000 pounds of cocaine with an estimated wholesale street value in excess of $180 million.

One of the stops involved a “low-profile” vessel, which was a custom fabricated boat specifically built to evade law enforcement, according to the Coast Guard.

The Steadfast crew sailed over 11,000 miles during the mission. In that time, they also conducted a search-and-rescue operation involving three fishermen stranded 300 miles off the coast of Mexico due to an engine failure.

The fishermen were brought onto the cutter and given food and shelter until they could be returned to their home country. The fishermen said they had been adrift for 15 days before being found.

Steadfast is a 49-year-old Reliance Class 210-foot Medium-Endurance Cutter homeported in Astoria since 1994. Nicknamed El Tiburon Blanco, or “The White Shark,” Steadfast’s primary missions include law enforcement, search and rescue, environmental protection and fisheries enforcement.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the hard work and dedication of my crew, and the men and women of the interagency aircrews and support networks ashore,” said Cmdr. Alain Balmaceda, Steadfast’s commanding officer. “Their teamwork was vital to successfully combating transnational organized crime in drug trafficking zones over the past several months. Knowing we stopped tons of drugs from reaching America’s shores and the streets of our allied nations in Central and South America made this deployment over the holidays even more rewarding.”

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