Coast Guard unloads seized cocaine in St. Pete - WFLA News Channel 8

Coast Guard unloads seized cocaine in St. Pete

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ST PETERSBURG, FL - Tuesday morning, members of the the Coast Guard Cutter Venturous unloaded 1,500 pounds of seized cocaine at the Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg. Coast Guard members seized the drugs as part of operation Caribbean Guard. The operation is part of a multi-agency effort, led by Homeland Security, to keep drugs out of Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands.

Ensign Ryan Webster recalled getting word that a boat loaded down with cocaine had been spotted off the coast of the Dominican Republic.

"We had the boat in the water in about five minutes," he said. "There's people dead asleep, launching the small boat in the water, and off and on the run."

It can be a dangerous proposition. The vessels used to transport drugs are called go-fast boats. Webster said the drug runners started throwing bales of cocaine over the side of the boat as the coast guard approached.

"They tried to get rid of evidence as quickly as possible," Webster said.

This seizure happened on Oct. 11, after the coast guard sector in San Juan got a report of the suspicious vessel. When it was all said and done, authorities found 28 bales on the boat that tested positive for cocaine. The Coast Guard estimates the cocaine has a wholesale value of $23 million.

Family members anxiously awaited for their loved ones to get back on shore after spending 40 days at sea. Danielle Eister is the wife of one of the crew members. She said her husband's work makes her proud.

"Him coming home is like every birthday and holiday all rolled into one," she said. "This is why they're out there, to keep us safe, and they're amazing. I'm happy that it's safer out there now."

The crew will now have time to relax with their loved ones. They will leave on their next mission sometime in late December.

Adrienne Pedersen contributed to this report.

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