The U.S. Coast Guard is unloading cocaine in South Florida worth nearly $500 million from 20 separate seizures in the eastern Pacific Ocean.
Coast Guard officials said in a news release Thursday the seizures totaled about 18.5 tons (about 16.8 kilograms) of cocaine. The recently seized drugs were brought to Port Everglades by the cutter Hamilton.
Authorities say the cocaine was intercepted along the Central and South American coasts by Coast Guard cutters and a Royal Canadian Navy ship sailing with a Coast Guard team aboard. The eastern Pacific is a prime smuggling route for cocaine headed to Mexico, where it is typically brought into the U.S.
Numerous suspected smugglers are being prosecuted by U.S. attorneys in California, along the East Coast and elsewhere as a result of the operations.