ALAMEDA (CBS SF) — A Coast Guard crew has seized more than 3,100 pounds of cocaine with an estimated street value of $53.5 million from a low-profile, go-fast vessel in international waters of the Pacific Ocean off Central America, officials announced Wednesday.

Coast Guard officials headquartered in Alameda said a maritime patrol aircraft spotted a suspected smuggling vessel on May 13 and diverted the crew aboard the Cutter James — which is based in South Carolina — to the vessel’s position.

Once on scene, James’ crew boarded the vessel to find four suspected smugglers and initially discovered a small amount of cocaine aboard the vessel.

The boarding team members later discovered an area of the ship that had been closed off, where they discovered the majority of the 3,100 pounds of cocaine.

On April 1, U.S. Southern Command began enhanced counter-narcotics operations in the Western Hemisphere to disrupt the flow of drugs in support of Presidential National Security Objectives.

The Coast Guard said 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.
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