WASHINGTON - The Coast Guard has reeled in a record 355,000 pounds of cocaine over the past year, results that officials say have forced smugglers to transport their drugs through costlier methods like semi-submersible vessels and liquefied drugs.
Coast Guard officials were set to announce today that they seized cocaine with a street value of roughly $4.7 billion in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30. The previous Coast Guard record for cocaine seizures, set two years ago, was 303,000 pounds.
In fiscal 2006, the Coast Guard seized 287,000 pounds of cocaine.
The street value of the drugs seized last year by the Coast Guard equals roughly half the agency's total annual budget, said Commandant Adm. Thad Allen, who said smugglers are increasingly turning to more difficult means of moving the contraband from South America. *