SAN DIEGO–Vice President Mike Pence attended a Coast Guard drug offload Thursday in San Diego.
The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Munro offloaded more than 39,000 pounds of cocaine and 933 pounds of marijuana worth a combined estimated $569 million, which was seized in international waters in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.
The drugs represent 14 separate suspected drug smuggling vessel interdictions and disruptions off the coasts of Mexico, Central and South America by three Coast Guard cutters between May and July 2019.This was the Munro’s first deployment to the region.
Pence, James W. Carroll, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, DEA acting administrator Uttam Dhillon, Vice Adm. Linda Fagan, commander of Coast Guard Pacific Area, spent time aboard Munro and gave remarks to the crew and media.
“Let me commend you especially for your new deployment to the Eastern Pacific corridor,” said Pence. “Even though this is a new area of deployment for this cutter, you’ve already proven yourselves more than up to the task… fourteen operations went into this offload, and one of them was of a self-propelled, semi-submersible vessel (SPPS), which resulted in the largest Coast Guard removal in four years. The Coast Guard is seizing illegal drugs at a faster rate than ever before. And you all have been at the tip of the spear, making that happen.”
Munro interdicted the SPPS on June 18 in international waters west of South America. It was carrying over 17,000 pounds of cocaine. In Fiscal Year 2019, the U.S. Coast Guard has interdicted over 143 metric tons of cocaine to date, worth over $4.2 billion.
These drugs are smuggled by international cartels, said Fagan, whose actions “which left unchecked, fuels violence and instability that corrodes our Hemisphere’s social and economic fabric, and directly contributes to historically high drug-related deaths in neighborhoods across North America.”
While the Munro, a National Security Cutter, was commissioned in 2017, 70% of the Coast Guard’s offshore presence is the service’s aging fleet of medium endurance cutters, many of which are over 50 years old.
“Our Coast Guard deserves better,” said Pence. “And that’s why we are committed to fully funding our Coast Guard, including replacing old ships with new ones, just like the Cutter Munro.”