Camouflaged Boats Pose New Threat in Illegal Drug Trade - NBC Bay Area

Camouflaged Boats Pose New Threat in Illegal Drug Trade

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Drug Smugglers Switch to Camouflaged Boats: USCG

    NBC 7's Liberty Zabala shares images of a new type of vessel being intercepted off of our coast by U.S. Coast Guard ships. It's faster and designed to blend in with the ocean.

    (Published Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018)

    New vessels designed to evade detection with a low-profile radar signature, camouflage and speed pose a new threat to the U.S. Coast Guard's efforts to keep illegal drugs out of the U.S.

    An example of the newest tool being used by illegal drug smugglers was caught in the eastern Pacific Ocean on Nov. 30, according to USCG officials. 

    The low-profile boat was painted green to blend in with the ocean. In its hold, guardsmen found more than 3,000 pounds of cocaine. 

    It was just one of a number of large seizures reported recently by the Coast Guard. 

    U.S. Customs and Border Protection

    On Thursday, crews offloaded more than 47,000 pounds of cocaine worth over $721 million. The drugs delivered by USCG crews to San Diego were seized in 23 separate incidents in the Pacific Ocean involving U.S. and Canadian forces. 

    More than 97 percent of cocaine bound for the U.S. and Canada is brought from South and Central America via ocean waters.

    Vice Adm. Fred Midgette, commander, U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area said it's vital that the U.S. work together with more than 19 partner nations operating with Joint Interagency Task Force South (JIATFS).

    Since June, USCG has captured 13 of these low-profile vessels and two self-propelled semi-submersibles. 

    Crews are using a ScanEagle Drone to detect the vessels in the water up to 50 miles away from the nearest USCG ship. 

    Cartels are also using varying drug smuggling routes, according to USCG officials.