“Socalj” for Borderland Beat

A high-seas encounter between a joint US-Dutch Coast Guard patrol operation and drug runners ended with the smugglers’ boat at the bottom of the Caribbean Sea, and the US Coast Guard seizing $63 million worth of cocaine, authorities in Florida said on Friday.

The dramatic encounter took place on Tuesday about 25 miles (40km) north of Puerto Cabello, Venezuela, when the coast guard cutter Resolute, patrolling with the Dutch Navy ship Groningen, identified a vessel in international waters suspected of carrying narcotics, according to a press release from the USCG south-east region.

The crew of the joint forces fast interception craft fired on the suspected smugglers when the “non-compliant vessel” turned at speed towards them. The boat caught fire and sank, the smugglers went overboard and were never discovered. The US and Dutch sailors acted “in self-defense and defense of others in response to the life-threatening situation,” the press release said.

The speedboat caught fire and sank, and the three suspected smugglers went overboard and disappeared below the water, the Coast Guard said. On Friday, the US Coast Guard and Dutch authorities said they had called off an air and sea search for the 3 persons onboard the boat.

On Thursday, the Resolute docked at Port Everglades, Florida, and unloaded more than 2,177 kilos of cocaine, valued at about $63 million recovered from the vessel.

Sources USCG, USCG, The Guardian