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  1. Alfa
    27 TONS OF COCAINE SEIZED

    Two Pacific Fleet ships on counternarcotics missions to the Eastern
    Pacific have confiscated more than 27 tons of cocaine off the
    Galapagos Islands and Mexico -- among the largest maritime seizures of
    cocaine in U.S. history.

    By the numbers

    54,000: Pounds of cocaine seized in two recent raids near Mexico and
    the Galapagos Islands. It is the largest amount ever seized at sea.

    240,518: Pounds of cocaine seized by the U.S. Coast Guard in the past
    year, a record.

    Value of drugs seized in the past year.

    The recent seizures included 13 tons of cocaine, with a street value
    of more than $750 million, found Friday aboard the fishing vessel San
    Jose about 1,000 miles south of Manzanillo, Mexico. The Pearl
    Harbor-based frigate USS Crommelin led the effort.

    The frigate has disrupted four narcotics-smuggling operations,
    confiscated nearly $1 billion worth of cocaine, and detained 32
    suspected smugglers since reporting May 20 for a six-month mission,
    the Navy said.

    By comparison, after returning from a six-month tour to the Eastern
    Pacific last year, the frigate intercepted six tons of cocaine.

    On Sept. 17, the frigate USS Curts out of San Diego intercepted the
    fishing vessel Lina Maria about 300 miles southwest of the Galapagos
    Islands with 14.52 tons of cocaine aboard. Ten crew members were arrested.

    The seizures bring the total of cocaine seized by the Coast Guard this
    year to a record 240,518 pounds -- worth $7.7 billion. That includes
    4,387 pounds of the drug seized Sept. 9 by the Honolulu-based Coast
    Guard cutter Jarvis after it was jettisoned during a chase with a
    speedboat off Mexico.

    Navy ships are routinely sent to the Eastern Pacific and Caribbean in
    support of the U.S. war on drugs. The Pentagon entered the drug war in
    the late 1980s, and frigates like the Crommelin have played a key role
    as the end of the Cold War eliminated the prospect of a confrontation
    with a Soviet superpower on the high seas.

    The latest seizures had support from Helicopter Anti-Submarine
    Squadron Light (HSL) 37 from Kane'ohe Bay and HSL 45 out of San Diego,
    in addition to U.S. Navy P-3 maritime patrol aircraft.

    The multi-agency effort, "Operation Panama Express," is a longstanding
    organized crime and drug task force based out of Tampa, Fla.

    "The success of these operations can only be credited to the synergy
    developed between the U.S. Navy, the Coast Guard and other agencies in
    the (area of operation)," said Rear Adm. Vinson E. Smith, the
    commander of naval assets in the Southern Command area.

    Military anti-drug missions have become a part of the war on terrorism
    and efforts to eliminate financing for insurgents, but some have
    questioned the effectiveness of the effort.

    Joseph Miranda, a former instructor at the U.S. Army JFK Special
    Warfare Center, concluded that the United States cannot win the war on
    drugs, and that to do so militarily would require a doubling of the
    U.S. armed forces.

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