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Feds seize $5 billion in illegal drugs last year

Posted on February 02, 2010 3:00 AM EST

Recent articles have set forth the proposition that the United States is losing the war on drugs. That very well may be the case, but federal authorities working together seized in excess of $5 billion of illegal drugs from marijuana trafficking and cocaine trafficking rings. Drug smugglers lost that amount of marijuana and cocaine during operations conducted by the United States Coast Guard, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Customs and the Joint Interagency Task Force. In total, 175 tons of cocaine and 35 tons of marijuana were seized, some of which was destined for the streets of Miami. For years, Miami criminal defense attorneys have been defending those involved in marijuana and cocaine trafficking rings. The inflow of illegal drugs into Miami leads to dozens and dozens of arrests each year.

The current Coast Guard Commandant and Chairman of the Office of National Drug Control Policy's Interdiction Committee applauded the efforts of federal law enforcement for stopping illegal drug traffickers at sea. Coast Guard officials reported that cocaine and marijuana traffickers are becoming more brazen and creative in their efforts to bring the illicit substances to the United States. Drug smugglers are not limiting themselves to go fast boats any longer. In recent narcotics bust last year revealed the Coast Guard intercepted a self-propelled submarine carrying 5 tons of cocaine. Last year, 322 people were arrested at sea for their involvement in cocaine and marijuana smuggling.

The Coast Guard, United States Navy and border patrol use vessels and aircraft in the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean to conduct their interdiction efforts. In March of 2009, the Coast Guard in conjunction with the border patrol spotted four go fast boats moving north toward the United States border. The Coast Guard used small boats and a helicopter to track the smugglers. A marksman aboard the helicopter fired warning shots and disabled two of the vessels. Coast Guard personnel seized in excess of 3,300 pounds of cocaine. In another instance, a Coast Guard plane spotted a suspicious vessel operating in the Pacific. After, tracking the vessel, a cutter moved in and seized 16,500 pounds of marijuana.

The interdiction community claims that the counter-drug operations put a significant dent in the amount of illegal drugs entering the county. However, the number of marijuana trafficking and cocaine trafficking cases that occur within our borders do not give such an optimistic view that the federal government is really winning the war on drugs. In state court, cocaine possession and marijuana possession cases litter the court's docket. With that being said, it does not appear that the countless man hours and money being spent are keeping the illegal substances off of the street. After being arrested, cocaine traffickers have told federal authorities that only a small portion of their wares are intercepted and that the cost of producing cocaine is so cheap in South America that a lost shipment is nowhere near the value the federal government puts on the seizures.

U.S. Agencies Seized $5 Billion in Illegal Drugs in 2009,, Tampa Bay Online, January 29 2010.
Categories: Drug Offenses