Some $63 million worth of cocaine was landed last week at Port Everglades, Fla., the haul  from a June 4 drug intercept and shootout off Venezuela that left three suspected smugglers lost at sea, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. 

The cutter Resolute’s crew offloaded 4,800 lbs. of the drug June 6, days after the Coast Guard and Dutch authorities suspended searching for the crew of a suspected drug-running fast vessel. The seizure followed interdictions by Dutch navy vessel HNLMS Groningen a 355’x52’ Holland-class offshore patrol vessel, that carried a U,S. Coast Guard law enforcement team on the mission 24 miles north of Puerto Cabello, Venezuela.

According to a Coast Guard narrative, the Dutch-U.S. team was tracking a go-fast vessel that failed to stop when signaled. Instead, the operator “increased speed and changed direction toward the Dutch pursuit boat, called a fast-raiding interception and special forces craft (FRISC),” according to the statment.  

The FRISC boat crew of Dutch and U.S. Coast Guard boarders fired at the oncoming boat “in self-defense and defense of others in response to the life-threatening situation,” according to the Coast Guard. “The go-fast vessel caught fire and sank, and three suspected smugglers went overboard into the water and were not recovered.

The search was suspended after continued efforts by U.S. and Dutch surface and air units failed to find any sign of the missing crew.

 “The missions our Coast Guard servicemembers and allied partners do every day to deny transnational criminal organizations access to maritime smuggling routes are inherently dangerous,” said Lt. Cmdr. John W. Beal, a Coast Guard District Seven public affairs officer in Miami. “The decision to suspend active search efforts is not one we take lightly, and the Coast Guard is working to investigate the incident in accordance with Coast Guard policy.” 

The HNLMS Groningen, a 355’x52’ Holland-class offshore patrol vessel, had a U.S. Coast Guard law enforcement team working with Dutch colleagues during the drug intercept June 4 off Venezuela. Dutch Ministry of Defense photo.




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