US Space Force has fired its first shots of the drug war
The US Space Force's 45th Security Squadron confiscated nearly 30 kilos of cocaine that washed up on a Florida beach on May 19, 2021. US Space Force
US Space Force personnel found about 65 pounds of cocaine on a Florida beach in May.
Parcels like these are usually thrown overboard after accidents or attempts to bypass authorities.
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Space Force is the newest US military branch and has now joined the longest running US war.
The 45th Security Forces Squadron confiscated about 65 pounds of cocaine found on a beach at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on May 19.
The squadron is part of Space Launch Delta 45, which is stationed at Patrick Space Force Base on the Atlantic coast of Florida. The base was renamed after the creation of the Space Force; the new branch has also renamed its units "Deltas".
A wildlife manager with the 45th Civil Engineer Squadron, another Space Launch Delta 45 unit, found a package of what appeared to be drugs while conducting a nesting test on sea turtles on the beach, Space Launch Delta 45 said in a press release earlier this month.
Twenty-four packages were found and a narcotics agent from the Brevard County Sheriff's Office used a field test to confirm they contained cocaine. The sheriff's office estimated the total value at $ 1.2 million.
The cocaine was turned over to Homeland Security Investigations, part of the Homeland Security Department, who examined the drugs and packaging, and performed further tests.
Space Force security seized nearly 30 kilos of cocaine that washed ashore on a beach at Space Force Station Cape Canaveral on May 19, 2021. US Space Force
HSI forwarded the information to the DEA's El Paso Intelligence Center. Such information is often applied to larger cases, such as that of the convicted Sinaloa cartel leader Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzmán.
When use of the drug exploded in the US in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the southeastern states were the main entry points for cocaine. Law enforcement pressure forced smugglers to shift to routes through the Pacific Ocean and through Mexico, which is still the main smuggling corridor.
However, the smuggling routes in the Caribbean remain active. Smugglers secretly bring loads ashore in and around Florida, often making short trips from the Bahamas or Puerto Rico.
Parcels like the ones found last month are usually thrown overboard due to accidents or attempts to bypass authorities. (Florida-based service workers have also been caught trying to smuggle drugs into the United States.)
The east coast ports are also used for large loads of drugs hidden in legitimate shipments, such as the 16 tons of cocaine found on a cargo ship to Europe in Philadelphia in 2019.
The Coast Guard, which is closely supported by the Navy, is the primary agency charged with intercepting drugs from South America northwards.
The Coast Guard frequently chases ships like rudimentary drug submarines carrying tons of drug loads - a brand new cutter confiscated 2,000 pounds of cocaine on its first cruise in the Caribbean in December 2020 - but service leaders say limited resources mean they only have one Fraction of the drugs they can stop discovering.
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