Members of the Coast Guard were given the surprise of a lifetime when they spotted mysterious debris in the Pacific Ocean. It didn’t take long before a sea turtle was found in the center of it all, tangled in cocaine bales.
The sea turtle was discovered when the Coast Guard crew sent a smaller boat into the large debris field. In a statement given by the Coast Guard, the crew noticed the turtle had “significant chafing” around its neck and flippers.
The turtle was immediately cut from the scarring blue lines and was released immediately. The Coast Guard shared video from the rescue on their Facebook page Tuesday, where the turtle can be seen getting cut loose. The crew then removed an additional 75 feet of the line from the ocean so no other marine life would be in danger.
According to the Coast Guards press release, the sea turtle was dragging over 1,800 pounds of cocaine worth $53 million.
The 1,800-pound cocaine load wasn’t the only take the crew seized during their mission. The crew also snatched an additional 13,000 pounds of cocaine, in addition to 14 pounds of marijuana. The Coast Guard also apprehended 24 suspect drug smugglers, which they announced in their Facebook post. The crew returned to Key West on Sunday with their haul.
After everything was counted and analyzed, the seven tons of narcotics seized on the mission were worth an estimated $135 million.
Crew members found the loggerhead turtle in the eastern Pacific Ocean, where they were on a 68-day mission. The mission, which was an effort of Operation Martillo, was targeting criminal organizations across 18 different countries.
Operation Martillo began over five years ago to combat drug trafficking and to protect citizens in Central and South America.
European nations also aid in Operation Martillo to prevent illicit narcotics from reaching their shores as well. Belize, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Panama, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States all work together in this monumental effort.
Between its beginning and February of this year, Operation Martillo has seized 693 tons of cocaine in addition to $25 million U.S. and has arrested over 18,000 smugglers.