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VIDEO: A history-making drug bust

A 25-foot go-fast was speeding south of the Dominican Republic in the dead of night last week when it caught the attention of a Coast Guard HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft.

On board were four people and a stack of suspicious packages. The Coast Guard launched an armed helicopter from a Wave Knight-class fast fleet tanker of the British Royal Fleet Auxiliary to intercept the suspected drug smugglers. The Jan. 22 operation marked the first time an armed Coast Guard helicopter embarked on a foreign-flagged military vessel in support of counter-drug operations.

The helicopter fired warning shots to stop the boat, and the suspected smugglers can be seen in the video tossing packages overboard. The helicopter employed “airborne use-of-force” to disable the boat.

The RFA ship, which had a Coast Guard law enforcement detachment team aboard, detained the suspected smugglers and recovered 45 bales of cocaine from the water.

A few days later, the crew of the Coast Guard cutter Sitkinak, a 110-foot patrol boat home-ported in Miami Beach, offloaded 2,500 pounds of cocaine with an estimated value of $37 million.

— Rich Armstrong