Coast Guard Seen As First Defense Against Cocaine Trafficking


Parade Magazine reports on the cocaine-interdiction efforts of the Coast Guard, the only branch of the U.S. armed forces that can legally board vessels registered in another country and arrest criminals. In 2009, the Coast Guard seized 352,863 pounds of cocaine from traffickers who used a variety of vessels, from fishing boats to low-lying semisubmarines. One cutter, the Sherman, is said to have interdicted an estimated $1.3 billion worth of cocaine in 10 weeks last year.

The Coast Guard, which received $1.2 billion in funding for drug interdiction in 2009, said it could be even more effective if it had more modern equipment. Parade cited one “good sign” in the drug war: Cocaine’s street price in the U.S. has recently doubled, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Nicholas Kolen, which shows that some of the traffickers’ supply lines have been disrupted by antidrug patrols. The Associated Press has reported that the increase in cocaine prices is related to the Mexican crackdown on drug cartels.

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