1. Archive

Charges filed in Tampa in record cocaine seizure

Ten people were charged by federal authorities in Tampa Monday as the result of the seizure of 30,000 pounds of cocaine from a boat off South America's Pacific coast earlier this month. Authorities called it the largest-ever seizure of the drug at sea.

On Sept. 17, the USS Curts, a Navy frigate based in San Diego, intercepted the Lina Maria, a fishing boat, about 300 miles west of the Galapagos Islands. Authorities said a Coast Guard team boarded the boat and found the cocaine hidden in a sealed ballast tank.

The crew of the boat, who were Colombian, claimed the boat had a Cambodian flag, but the government of Cambodia denied that, so the boat was treated as having no nationality, a Coast Guard spokeswoman said.

A second seizure was made Friday in the same area. The frigate USS Crommelin, based in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, stopped the fishing boat San Jose, and a Coast Guard team found 26,000 pounds of cocaine hidden under fish and ice in the vessel's cargo hold. Eight people were detained.

Officials think both seized boats were headed for the U.S. West Coast.