BY Naveen Athrappully

The U.S. Coast Guard has recovered over 28,500 pounds of marijuana and cocaine, offloading it on Thursday at the Base Miami Beach, Florida.

The drugs were interdicted by the USCGC Legare crew in the international waters of the Caribbean Sea and the Eastern Pacific Ocean, a Sept. 16 Coast Guard news release said. The Legare was joined by Coast Guard Cutter James, U.S. Navy ship USS Billings, and His Netherlands Majesty’s Ship HNLMS Groningen in the operation. In total, the group recovered roughly 24,700 pounds of cocaine and 3,892 pounds of marijuana which are estimated to have a combined value of $475 million.

Jeremy M. Greenwood, commanding officer of Legare, said that he is proud of his crew’s “continued devotion to duty” which made the offload possible.

“Through the coordinated efforts of the Legare, the LEDETs, HNLMS Groningen, CGC James, and the USS Billings crews, we significantly contributed to the counter-drug mission and the dismantling of transnational criminal organizations. The drugs seized through this coordinated effort will result in significantly fewer drug-related overdoses,” he said.

Stationed in Portsmouth, Virginia, the Legare is a 270-foot medium endurance cutter that is usually involved in operations like search and rescue, law enforcement, and homeland security. It patrols offshore waters from Maine to Florida, the Caribbean, the Eastern Pacific, and the Gulf of Mexico.

In April, the crew of Coast Guard Cutter Dauntless had offloaded over $243 million worth of illegal narcotics at the Miami Beach Coast Guard base. Roughly 8,500 pounds of cocaine were seized in the operation.

Florida’s Drug Crisis

Last year, Florida reported more than 8,000 overdose deaths, including over 2,000 overdose deaths from cocaine.

By early August this year, Florida had already seen almost 2,000 overdose deaths.

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced a new program last month aimed at helping opioid addicts recover.

“Biden’s border crisis has caused a massive infusion of drugs coming into our state,” DeSantis said in an Aug. 3 news release. “This year we increased the penalties for individuals trafficking drugs in our state, and now we are giving Floridians the tools they need to break the substance abuse cycle.”

Nationwide, drug overdoses have killed over 932,000 people across the United States since 1999 according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In 2020 alone, drug overdose killed 91,799 people, of which 74.8 percent were deaths related to the intake of opioids.

Between 2019 and 2020, the age-adjusted rate of overdose deaths in the country rose from 21.6 per 100,000 people to 28.3 per 100,000 people, an increase of 31 percent.

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