Coast Guard Rescues Sea Turtle Entangled in 1,800 Pounds of Cocaine in the Pacific

The endangered reptile was found during a counterdrug patrol last month.

Members of the U.S. Coast Guard who were on a counterdrug patrol last month ended up saving an endangered sea turtle.

The Coast Guard Cutter Thetis was in the eastern Pacific on Nov. 19 when the vessel launched its Over the Horizon small boat to investigate a debris field. 

Trapped and desperate within the flotilla of the suspected contraband, the crew discovered a large sea turtle entangled in multiple bales of what later turned out to be cocaine.

Crew members saw significant chaffing from the lines on the sea turtle's neck and flippers, according to a USCG release. 

They began by carefully cutting the lines wrapped around the sea turtle and were able to free him.

The boat crew recovered more than 75 feet of line to prevent further entanglement of sea life and returned to the law enforcement mission, confiscating over 1,800 pounds of cocaine — valued at over $53 million — from international waters.

The discovery was made as part of Operation Martillo, an effort launched in January 2012 that targets illicit trafficking routes in coastal waters along the Central American isthmus.

During the 68-day operation, the Coast Guard says teams seized 6,755 kilograms of cocaine and 14 pounds of marijuana during eight separate interdictions that resulted in the apprehension of 24 suspected smugglers.