(Reuters) - A U.S. Coast Guard cutter carrying more than 14 tons of seized cocaine returned to a California naval base on Thursday after a two-and-a-half month operation off the coast of Central and South America, officials said.
The drugs, valued at more than $424 million, arrived at Naval Base San Diego after they were seized during a 79-day operation involving the U.S. Navy and the Royal Canadian Navy, Coast Guard Vice Admiral Charles Michel said in a statement.
Michel said authorities had seized some 28 tons of cocaine, valued at roughly $848 million, in the eastern Pacific Ocean in the past six months, more than that recovered in all of the 2014 fiscal year. He said more than 100 suspected smugglers had also been apprehended.
Michel said that, during one of the 19 incidents in the most recent operation, U.S. and Canadian authorities intercepted an 11,000 pound drug haul, the largest maritime seizure since 2009.
(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Paul Tait)