Authorities Seize Record Amount of Cocaine, Heroin: USCG - NBC Southern California

Authorities Seize Record Amount of Cocaine, Heroin: USCG

Nearly $700 million worth of cocaine and heroin were seized in the last 45 days, U.S. Coast Guard officials said.

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    Authorities seized nearly $700 million worth of cocaine and heroin in the past 45 days, a record amount of drugs in the time period. NBC 7's Liberty Zabala reports. (Published Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017)

    Authorities seized nearly $700 million worth of cocaine and heroin in the past 45 days, a record amount of drugs in the time period. 

    On Wednesday, the stacks of drugs were offloaded from the Coast Guard's Cutter Stratton. The drugs amount to more than 50,000 pounds of cocaine and heroin. 

    This fiscal year, Coast Guard officials have seized more than 450,000 pounds of cocaine -- surpassing last year's numbers. 

    Authorities have been able to seize as many drugs as they have because of the U.S. and allied forces' presence in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, officials said. Officials have been able to remove more narcotics from drug transit zones off South and Central America. 

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions, U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter, California's 50th Congressional District and Chairman of the U.S. Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee and U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft announced the historic drug removals.

    Sessions said drug deaths across the country hit 60,000 in 2016.

    The work the Coast Guard is doing helps to keep these drugs off the streets and to prevent future deaths, Sessions said.

    "Look, we’re facing a tremendous challenge. In 2015, we had 52,000 people die from drug overdoses in the country. Numbers the likes of which we’ve never ever seen before," Sessions said.

    During the press conference, Sessions also took the opportunity to discuss how some states want to be known as sanctuary states.

    "One of the sad things is we have this disagreement over sanctuary cities and sanctuary states and the refusal of certain jurisdictions to cooperate with our colleagues, mostly our ICE agents, who have the responsibility under the law, the duty, to arrest people who are in our country illegally," Sessions said. 

    "I find it almost unbelievable that states and cities would object to that," Sessions added. "Why in the world would they want to object to the law being followed?"

    He said authorities should deport people in the U.S. illegally, especially if they had committed crimes. 

    "Why they shouldn't be deported is beyond me," Sessions said. 

    Wednesday, the Coast Guard handed over more than 600 suspected smugglers to the Department of Justice. 

    Zukunft said they have been able to triple removal rates of drugs such as these, but they still have more work to do.