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Press Release | July 17, 2023

PHOTOS AVAILABLE: Coast Guard crew offloads more than $158 million worth of narcotics in San Diego

USCG District 11 Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO — The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Steadfast (WMEC 623) offloaded more than 11,600 pounds of cocaine and 5,500 pounds of marijuana worth an estimated $158 million in San Diego, Monday.

The interdictions were conducted during counter-narcotics patrols in the Eastern Pacific Ocean between May and July by crews of the Coast Guard Cutters Vigilant (WMEC 617), Mohawk (WMEC 913) and Steadfast.

“The crews of the Coast Guard Cutters Vigilant, Mohawk and Steadfast worked diligently to combat transnational organized crime, disrupt drug flow and prevent a significant amount of drugs from reaching the U.S.,” said Rear Adm. Andrew Sugimoto, commander, Coast Guard Eleventh District. "Their unwavering commitment while interdicting drug smugglers at sea is not only commended, but their continued efforts are unmatched.”

Numerous U.S. agencies from the Departments of Defense, Justice and Homeland Security cooperated in the effort to combat transnational organized crime. The Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection, FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, along with the Mexican Navy (SEMAR), contributed to this counter-narcotic operation. These coordinated efforts underscore the strong collaboration between the U.S. and SEMAR.

“Nothing is guaranteed when a Coast Guard crew says ‘goodbye’ to loved ones and embarks on a multi-month patrol,” said Cmdr. Brock Eckel, commanding officer of the Steadfast. “However, our team worked incredibly hard, day-and-night, to stop three smuggling vessels, preventing more than five tons of illicit narcotics from reaching American soil. I am honored to serve with the amazing Steadfast crew and share in their success.”

The fight against drug cartels in the Eastern Pacific Ocean requires unity of effort in all phases from detection, monitoring, and interdictions, to criminal prosecutions by international partners and U.S. Attorneys’ Offices in districts across the nation. The law enforcement phase of counter-smuggling operations in the Eastern Pacific Ocean is conducted under the authority of the Eleventh Coast Guard District, headquartered in Alameda. U.S. Coast Guard members lead and conduct the interdictions, including the actual boardings.

The Steadfast is a 210-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Astoria, Oregon. This multi-mission platform falls under the operational command of the Coast Guard Pacific Area Commander. As a Coast Guard resource, Steadfast deploys in support of the Coast Guard's Eleventh and Thirteenth Districts as well as Joint Inter-Agency Task Force South (JIATF-S). During deployments, Steadfast patrols along the western seaboard of the United States, Mexico and North and Central America conducting search and rescue, maritime law enforcement, living marine resource protection, and homeland defense operations.