East Pacific Ocean – The U.S. Coast Guard has intercepted a drug-smuggling submarine carrying approximately 12,000 pounds of cocaine worth over $165 million.
The operation was conducted in the Eastern Pacific Ocean on Sept. 5, ABC News reported.
The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Valiant was on routine patrol when a maritime patrol aircraft detected the self-propelled semi-submersible and alerted to its location, the U.S. Coast Guard said in a press release.
The aircraft monitored the 40-foot vessel as the Valiant Crew and the Joint Interagency Task Force South diverted to the area.
They arrived after sunset, and launched two small boats to interdict the semi-submersible in the predawn hours, according to the release.
The teams subsequently boarded the vessel with the assistance of Colombian Naval assets, and apprehended four smugglers inside.
“Over 1,100 pounds of cocaine were recovered and offloaded to the Valiant during the operations,” the Coast Guard said in the press release. “The remaining cocaine on the semi-submersible could not be safely extracted due to stability concerns of the vessel.”
In addition to stopping the smugglers, the joint boarding “also strengthened international relations and communications between the two partner nations,” the release read.
Valiant Commanding Officer Commander Matthew Waldron said that the operation “was an all-hands-on-deck evolution,” and that “each crew member performed above and beyond the call of duty,” according to the release.
“There are no words to describe the feeling Valiant crew is experiencing right now,” Commander Waldron added.
A majority of the vessels the U.S. Coast Guard has intercepted coming out of South America have been heading either to Central America or to southern Mexico,” Coast Guard Lieutenant Commander Matthew Kroll told ABC News.
The operation was one of many successful interdictions the U.S. Coast Guard has made this month.
On Sept. 20, the Coast Guard Cutter Seneca located over 12,000 pounds of cocaine in Miami, ABC News reported.
Earlier in September, the Midgett and the Tahoma seized another 9,000 pounds of cocaine.
"These down range counter-drug operations are a vital component to the Coast Guard and Department of Homeland Security's mission and our national security," Seneca Commander John Christensen told ABC News.
You can watch footage of the team breaching the semi-submersible in the video below: