The crew of the Coast Guard cutter Active, a 210-foot medium endurance Reliance-class cutter homeported in Port Angeles, interdicts more than 1 ton of cocaine from four suspected drug smugglers during a counter-narcotics patrol in the eastern Pacific Ocean on May 18. (U.S. Coast Guard)

The crew of the Coast Guard cutter Active, a 210-foot medium endurance Reliance-class cutter homeported in Port Angeles, interdicts more than 1 ton of cocaine from four suspected drug smugglers during a counter-narcotics patrol in the eastern Pacific Ocean on May 18. (U.S. Coast Guard)

Drugs seized by Coast Guard cutter Active of Port Angeles worth $78 million

The drugs were seized off the coast of Central America.

SAN DIEGO — The crew of the Coast Guard cutter Active from Port Angeles seized more than 5,271 pounds of cocaine worth more than $78 million during a counter-drug patrol in international waters off Central America.

The crew of the 53-year-old Coast Guard cutter seized the drugs during two back-to-back interdictions off the coast of Central America on May 18 and May 19, the Coast Guard reported in a press release.

The drugs were expected to be offloaded in San Diego on Tuesday. They will be turned over to federal agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration for destruction.

The crew also apprehended six suspected drug smugglers during the interdictions who will be prosecuted in the United States, the Coast Guard said.

“I’m incredibly proud of this crew and their accomplishments. The success of this patrol is a testament to their hard work and dedication. Just to keep a 53-year-old ship in prime condition is a feat in and of itself, and they have done that and much more,” said Active’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Chris German.

During its patrol, Active has interdicted three “panga” style vessels and one pleasure craft, resulting in the seizure of more than three tons of illicit narcotics worth an estimated $95 million in wholesale, and apprehended 11 suspected drug smugglers, the Coast Guard said.

“The crew of Active should be proud of all they’ve accomplished to combat dangerous transnational criminal organizations that spread violence and instability throughout the Western Hemisphere,” said Vice Adm. Fred Midgette, commander, U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area.

“Their ability to complete the mission on this aging platform is a testament to their abilities as cuttermen and devotion to duty as Coast Guard women and men.”

The Active is a Medium endurance cutter (MEC) and currently operating beyond its expected 40-year service life.

The MEC class is considered the backbone of the Coast Guard’s fleet; however, engineering challenges have plagued the operations of these vessels in recent years, the Coast Guard said.

Medium endurance cutters are scheduled for replacement by the offshore patrol cutter (OPC), with construction of the first vessel beginning in 2018 and scheduled for completion in 2021.

“These cutters [OPCs] will eventually comprise 70 percent of Coast Guard surface presence in the offshore zone,” said U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft before the House Committee on Appropriations, Homeland Security Subcommittee in May 2017.

“Offshore patrol cutters will provide the tools to more effectively enforce federal laws, secure our maritime borders by interdicting threats before they arrive on our shores, disrupt TCOs, and respond to 21st century threats.”

MEC crews stopped nearly a third of all drugs seized by the U.S. Coast Guard in Fiscal Year 2017, more than 138,000 pounds, the Coast Guard said.

The Coast Guard removed more than 493,000 pounds of cocaine worth more than $6.6 billion in 2017, which was a new record for the service, up from 443,000 pounds of cocaine in Fiscal Year 2016.

_______

This story was first published in the Peninsula Daily News.

More in Northwest

Safeco Field funding referendum withdrawn

The mysterious backers of the initiative won’t say why, but some think it’s because they couldn’t get funding to gather the necessary signatures.

Shortest ever ‘Obamacare’ enrollment period starts Nov. 1

The Trump administration slashes the time frame to sign up for insurance.

Metro revises timeline for RapidRide bus expansion

After originally aiming to build 20 additional fast-service bus lines on high demand routes by 2040, King County Metro has changed its construction timelines and put 13 of those projects on hold.

Rape allegation against Sen. Joe Fain divides King County Council

In a recent interview, Councilmember Kathy Lambert blamed Fain’s accuser for the alleged rape. Then Lambert’s colleagues distanced themselves from her comments.

The man on Iron Mountain

Chuck Pillon has been living on a 10-acre junk-filled property near Renton for decades.

Safe consumption part 3: The opposite of addiction

Final episode of our three-part series on controversial supervised consumption sites

Safe consumption: The debate

In the first of a three-part series, we enter into the heated, emotional, and sometimes bitter debate around one of the most controversial policy proposals in the country.

Dockless in Seattle

In the year since a new kind of bikeshare was launched in Seattle, the bikes have been found in many interesting spots. But is there a place for them in the region’s future?

Olympic National Park to start capturing mountain goats this summer

Park Service releases record of decision on relocating, killing animals

Legislators and activists seek solutions to farmer suicides

Agricultural workers end their own lives at a higher rate than workers in any other profession.

The Rev. Michael Curry, left, the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church who gained international fame with his sermon at the royal wedding last month, was in Aberdeen on Saturday afternoon for a rally that sought to highlight homelessness. Photo by Scott Johnston
Bishop Curry speaks at Aberdeen affordable-housing rally

The presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church gained international fame with his sermon at the royal wedding last month.

Defendant in 1987 slayings of BC couple pleads not guilty

William Talbott of SeaTac was arraigned Tuesday in Snohomish County Superior Court.