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Coast Guard, Navy intercept suspected drug smugglers in fiery meeting

Posted at 7:47 PM, Apr 25, 2018

(KGTV) - Suspected drug smugglers were rescued by U.S. Coast Guard crews this month after their vessel erupted into flames before sinking.

Crews from the Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations (AMO), the U.S. Navy ship USS Zephyr, and the Colombian Navy ship ARC "07 de Agosto" detected the high-speed vessel on April 7 in the eastern Pacific Ocean.

As crews prepared to intercept the vessel, the suspected smugglers allegedly began abandoning their cargo and jumped from the boat as it caught fire.

Crews rescued four suspected smugglers and spent 90 minutes extinguishing the flames.

"There was no doubt in our minds what needed to be done to salvage the evidence needed for a successful prosecution even if it meant laying Zephyr alongside a burning hull, with the intense heat and acrid smoke hindering our 90-minute firefight," Lt. Cmdr. Grant Greenwell, the commanding officer of the Zephyr, said.

After putting out the fire, crews say they recovered about 1,080 pounds of cocaine. The four suspected smugglers were transferred to custody aboard the Zephyr.

The suspected drug vessel was severely damaged and sunk as it was a hazard to navigation.