U.S. Coast Guard Makes Biggest Cocaine Bust in U.S. History

'Operation Panama Express'

The Coast Guard worked with the DEA and other components of the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice under Operation Panama Express. Commandant of the Coast Guard, Adm.Thad Allen, credited the crews of the military branch's two cutters involved in the bust. One ship is 40 years old, and the crew was even working to fix some mechanical problems on the ship during the raid.

Allen said, "This does not happen alone. Coast Guard cannot execute these types of missions without the incredible support of our interagency partners and our international partners, in this case the country of Panama."

Upcoming Prosecution

Officials arrested 14 crew members: three from Panama and 11 from Mexico. The Mexican crew members are on their way to Tampa, Fla., to face prosecution in the United States, while the Panamanian suspects have been turned over to face possible charges in Panama.

"The Gatun was the one big fish that didn't get away," Tandy said.

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