US announces $362m drug bust in Caribbean

2012-04-26 10:01
Miami - US Customs and Border Protection on Wednesday announced the capture of two high-speed boats in the Caribbean loaded with more than 2 200kg of cocaine worth more than $362m.

A Florida-based P-3 reconnaissance aircraft detected the two vessels on 20 April about 190km off the east coast of Panama and notified local authorities, who chased the two boats.

"One vessel abandoned the contraband before arriving on shore, while the second go-fast [vessel] was seized nearby," the border patrol said.

"A US Navy vessel operating in the area retrieved 89 bales of cocaine from the scene," it said.

The border patrol said the Florida-based reconnaissance aircraft - originally designed to hunt submarines - had helped authorities seize about $2.8bn worth of cocaine since October 2011.

The long-range aircraft monitor a 100 million square kilometre area in the Caribbean and eastern Pacific in search of drug smugglers, the customs service said.

"By providing surveillance of known air, land, and maritime smuggling routes in an area that is twice the size of the continental US, the P-3s detect, monitor and disrupt smuggling activities before they reach shore."

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