US authorities have seized 16.7 tonnes (18.5 tons) of cocaine with an estimated avenue worth of greater than $500m (£390m) from drug smuggling boats within the Pacific Ocean.

Packages of the unlawful narcotic had been confiscated from 15 vessels in worldwide waters off the coasts of Central and South America, the US Coast Guard revealed on Friday.

Officers arrested 49 suspected traffickers who will face prosecution in southern Florida.

Eight US Coast Guard vessels had been concerned within the effort to grab the medicine, offloading the haul at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale.

Captain Jeffrey Randall, commanding officer of Coast Guard Cutter James, thanked the army company’s “companions and allies” for aiding within the operation.

“It takes a community to defeat a community, and we’ll proceed to increase our capabilities and leverage these partnerships to amplify our influence and cease this unlawful commerce which threatens our nationwide safety and breeds instability in our accomplice nations,” mentioned Captain Randall. 

Cocaine stays one of the vital fashionable unlawful medicine within the US, the place a lot of the world’s cocaine is consumed.

“There are troubling early indicators that cocaine use and availability is on the rise in the US for the primary time in practically a decade,” the US State Division mentioned in a world narcotics commerce report in 2017.

In keeping with a current UN report on medicine, potential international cocaine output reached 1,410 tons in 2016 – the very best stage ever estimated. 

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