Trafficking in the powerful drug cocaine, which was mostly responsible for the Miami gang wars and a steep rise in crime in the 1970s and 1980s, is making a comeback, according to U.S. Coast Guard Adm. Peter Brown.
The Coast Guard in Florida has already been busy this year, having seized 35,000 pounds of cocaine in Port Everglades in February 2019. That massive haul is worth about $466 million. According to Brown, this seizure is the payoff from one of the 21 drug running operations they’ve been tracking.
While concern about drug use and abuse in recent years has focused more on the opioid epidemic, cocaine use has quietly been on the rise, and once again is making the news.
The Florida medical examiner reported in 2017 that cocaine by far accounted for the most drug deaths in that state, numbering a staggering 2,012. That is more than five deaths per day and amounts to an overall 14% increase in cocaine use.
Since 2017, the Coast Guard has arrested more than 1,300 drug smugglers. Their record-breaking efforts have prevented a whopping 1.3 million pounds of cocaine from reaching Florida neighborhoods.
Drug smugglers tend to use small, fast boats, say Coast Guard crews. They’re tough to see and difficult to catch. And, says Brown, smugglers tend to run at night and keep their vessels dark. Without lights, they are almost impossible to spot.
Most of the cocaine that finds its way into Florida comes from smugglers operating out of the bays and inlets along Central or South America. Or, the white powder flows like a tidal wave over the island archipelago of the Caribbean, right through the Florida Straits into Miami.
The Sun-Sentinel reports that cocaine production is on the rise once again in Columbia. This small nation in South America is one of the world’s largest producers of cocaine. The DEA estimates about 710 tons, or 1.4 million pounds, are produced there each year. The recent increase in Columbian-produced cocaine has been attributed to the cessation of the use of pesticides, ironically because of “health concerns.”
For anyone struggling with cocaine addiction, or for those who want to learn more, check out the resources at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health (SAMH) Program, within the Florida Department of Children and Families(DCF)