The Coast Guard set a record in 2016, seizing more than 240 tons of cocaine.
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ABOARD THE COAST GUARD CUTTER STRATTON, in the eastern Pacific Ocean: The drone is loaded onto a catapult on the flight deck.Its mission: intercept vessels hauling cocaine bound for America's cities.The Associated Press spent two weeks in February and March aboard the Stratton, the most advanced ship in the Coast Guard fleet, as 100-plus crew members patrolled the eastern Pacific, through which about 70 percent of the cocaine consumed in the U.S. passes.With three to five Coast Guard cutters covering over 15 million square kilometers – from the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico to the eastern Pacific Ocean – it's like having a few police cars watch over the entire lower 48 states.Those taken into custody for smuggling are put in white hazmat suits, given health exams and then led into a converted helicopter hangar aboard the Stratton, where they are shackled to the floor and issued a wool blanket, toiletries and a cot or a foam mat. Eventually they are flown to the U.S. and prosecuted at American expense.
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