COMBINED EFFORT NETS OVER 2.5 TONS OF COCAINE

A combined effort by the Coast Guard cutter Valiant, a Navy aircraft and the British warship HMS Northumberland resulted in the seizure of 4,673 pounds of cocaine headed for Europe.
The drug-laden vessel Adriatik was sighted about 38 miles northwest of Trinidad on Nov. 9 by a Navy aircraft flying for a joint interagency task force, according to a release from the Coast Guard in Miami.
The Northumberland, with a Coast Guard law-enforcement team aboard, was diverted by the Coast Guard Greater Antilles Section headquartered in San Juan to commandeer the Adriatik. As the British vessel escorted the Panamanian-flagged cargo ship toward St. Thomas, Coast Guard and British crew members began a search on board the vessel.
On Nov. 12 at 8 a.m. the 210-foot Coast Guard cutter Valiant caught up with the two vessels and relieved the Northumberland, according to Chief Petty Officer Soto of the Miami Coast Guard office.
The next day, Valiant crew members boarding the Adriatik at sea found cocaine stashed in a starboard wing tank.
After the vessels reached St. Thomas on Saturday, authorities conducted a full search of the Adriatik and uncovered more drugs.
The Adriatik, which had been en route from Barranquilla, Colombia, was seized and turned over to the U.S. Customs Service on St. Thomas.
According to Capt. Norman Henslee, commander of the Greater Antilles Coast Guard Section, the drugs were headed for Europe but might have eventually landed on the streets of the United States.
"The joint efforts of the Royal Navy, Coast Guard and the Department of Defense allowed us to keep these drugs off the streets and out of the schools in Europe and America," Henslee said.

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