“Socalj” for Borderland Beat

Over 9 tons of cocaine from six separate drug smuggling events were seized last month and offloaded in San Diego on Wednesday, authorities said.

The cocaine has an estimated street value of more than $239 million. It was recovered off the coasts of Mexico, Central America, and South America by two US. Coast Guard ships in November, the USCG said in a press release.

The largest seizure, weighing more than 5,500 pounds, was recovered by Coast Guard Cutter Waesche on Nov. 20. It was found on a narco-submarine.

“Our last interdiction of a semi-submersible vessel was noteworthy since it was the first semi-submersible interdicted in the Eastern Pacific in over three years,” said Captain Robert Mohr, the commanding officer of the Waesche.

Coast Guard Cutter Waesche is a 418-foot-long National Security Cutter, a type of ship used to support maritime homeland security and defense missions. The ship is one of eight in its class operated by the Coast Guard and has a home port in Alameda, California.

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Waesche (WMSL 751) offloaded approximately 18,219 pounds of cocaine, with an estimated street value of more than $239 million, on Wednesday in San Diego.

The offload is a result of six separate suspected drug smuggling vessel interdictions or events off the coasts of Mexico and Central and South America by the Coast Guard Cutters Waesche and Active in November. 

  • USCGC Waesche – 1,550 kg (3,417 lbs) cocaine (Nov. 7) 
  • USCGC Waesche – 1,309 kg (2,886 lbs) cocaine (Nov. 15)
  • USCGC Waesche – 1,140 kg (2,513 lbs) cocaine (Nov. 16)
  • USCGC Waesche – 2,510 kg (5,534 lbs) cocaine (Nov. 20)
Coast Guard Active, a smaller ship assigned primarily to law enforcement and search-and-rescue missions, recovered nearly 4,000 pounds of cocaine from two of the six operations.
  • USCGC Active – 1,735 kg (3,825 lbs) cocaine (Nov. 23)
  • USCGC Active – 20 kg (44 lbs) cocaine (Nov. 24)
More than 40 tons of cocaine were seized in 2023 according to statistics from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, making it the third most seized drug behind marijuana and methamphetamines.

U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California Tara McGrath thanked the Coast Guard for its assistance in the fight against drug cartels in the state.

“The significance of keeping this much cocaine from reaching our shores and streets is, no doubt, life-changing,” said McGrath. “Without these 9 tons of cocaine on American streets, fewer people will have access to this toxic poison, and hundreds of millions of dollars will not make it into cartel coffers.”

According to statistics from the U.S. Sentencing Commission from 2020, the average sentence for powder cocaine trafficking was 5 1/2 years.