The Coast Guard in Miami says one of its cutters seized cocaine worth an estimated $27 million after stopping a fishing boat in the western Caribbean Sea.
Coast Guard officials say the 2,200 pounds of cocaine will be brought ashore Friday at a Miami Beach base and transferred to the Drug Enforcement Administration.
"We see them all the way up to 8 to 10 tons of cocaine so this is on the smaller to average size for this kind of a vessel," said Rear Adm. William D. Baumgartner of the U.S. Coast Guard.
The three suspected drug smugglers caught aboard the boat will be handed over to the FBI. Their identities and nationalities weren't immediately released.
"What this represents is tens of thousands of young people who might not start using drugs, many thousands of addicts who might have the chance to be rehabilitated. Obviously the human misery that goes along with all of the families, so that's what this represents," said Gen. John F. Kelly of the U..S. Marine Corps.
The cocaine was seized April 18 by the crew of the Cutter Gallatin. The patrol was part of Operation Martillo, which brings together assets of several U.S. agencies as well as European and Latin American countries to stop drug smugglers. The operation also seeks to stop movement of drug-related cash and weapons.