US Coast Guard Sets Record for Drug Seizures at Sea Again

The United States Coast Guard has set a new record for cocaine seizures at sea for the second year in a row.  The Washington Post reports that the Coast Guard has seized more than 455,000 pounds of cocaine through Sept. 11 in the fiscal year that will end Oct. 1, breaking the record of 443,790 pounds set last year. About 85 percent of that comes from the eastern Pacific, service officials said. The Coast Guard also has detained at least 681 suspected smugglers in those operations, up from 585 last year and 503 in 2015.

While the Coast Guard has had record hauls of drugs seized on the high seas the past two years, that is not the case on land, according to data from Customs and Border Protection and Border Patrol reports the San Diego Union Tribune.  Annual reports from those agencies, which are the main law enforcement authorities on the border, show a steady decline over the past several years in the amounts of drugs seized.

The USCG has been setting records in cocaine interdiction, while also coping with flat budgets and threatened budget cuts. As we posted last March, the service is responding to ever-increasing demands with a fleet of often geriatric cutters and icebreakers. 

The Coast Guard is seeking funding for eight large national security cutters, 25 offshore patrol cutters for intermediate operations and 58 fast-response cutters for missions near shore to replace an aging fleet of about 90 ships, according to a Congressional Research Service report released in August.

A brief geography lesson for those obsessed with drug smuggling and border walls.  The border between the United States and Mexico is 2,000 miles long. The coast of the United States is estimated to be 12,383 miles, while the shoreline, including bays and estuaries, is estimated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to be 95,471 miles. We need ships more than walls.

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