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12 million in cocaine unloaded by Coast Guard in St. Petersburg

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From the Bay News 9 website, the Coast Guard in St. Pete had a busy day unloading a large amount of cocaine seized from Panama...

In St. Petersburg, Coast Guard officials said they were offloading more than $12 million worth of seized cocaine at the agency's St. Petersburg sector last weekend.

The cocaine was seized in two cases by crews on the USS Halyburton in waters northeast of Panama last month, officials said.

On Feb. 7, a maritime patrol aircraft spotted a 40-foot go-fast vessel near Panama. Coast Guard officials launched a smallboat, which followed the vessel as it released several packages into the water.

The go-fast fled toward Panamanian waters, but Coast guard crews recovered three bales that tested positive for cocaine, officials said.

Then, on Feb. 14, a maritime patrol aircraft located a go-fast vessel releasing bales in the water near the previous location. The Coast Guard recovered 12 bales of cocaine, and the Colombian Navy arrested the alleged smugglers.

The contraband was transferred to the cutter Resolute for offload at the Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg. From there it is expected to be kept in an evidence lab and then destroyed.

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