Friday, May 08, 2015

The way we were...Two tons of cocaine seized by Coast Guard, local cops

Miami News, May 8, 1985.


30 years ago today....

From the Miami News, May 8, 1985:
Two enormous cocaine seizures  one by the Coast Guard in Miami and one by police in Florida City  were made within a three hour period early today in separate incidents.

The two tons of coke had a street value of more than $1 billion. That's more than four times the city of Miami's total budget this year.

Here's how the May 9, 1985 edition of the Miami Herald reported the Coast Guard's seizure of the coke:
Wednesday's separate seizures came on land and sea. Police in Florida City, Dade's southernmost city, found the drugs after two traffic stops on U.S. 1 in South Dade. The Coast Guard hit it big after a high-speed sea chase through Biscayne Bay.

Police suspect the seizures are unrelated. "Nobody here has any knowledge of any connection," Simpson said. "The only way you could tell if they came in the same load is if you sat down and looked at the markings and how they were packaged."

The cocaine seized by the Coast Guard was wrapped in red, white and blue plastic and packed in cardboard boxes. The kilo- sized packages were covered with markings, mainly Hispanic names, Petty Officer David Anderton said. The coke confiscated by Florida City was encased in yellow and gray plastic without markings and stuffed in duffel bags.

Each seizure was touched off by improper lighting -- a boat running without lights in the Coast Guard bust, a broken taillight in Florida City's case.

At about 1:15 a.m., a Coast Guard helicopter on night patrol spotted a boat with its lights off two miles east of Haulover Beach Park.

The helicopter dropped down to a hundred feet over the water and pursued the boat through Bakers Haulover Cut into Biscayne Bay.

"We had people in fifth-floor condos saying, 'We just saw your helicopter flying down below us,' " Simpson said.

Racing at speeds up to 50 miles per hour, the dual-engine boat, a 29-foot Mirage, led the helicopter and two Coast Guard patrol boats on an eight-mile chase.

Just north of the Venetian Causeway, three men jumped from the Mirage and began swimming for the sea wall, leaving their cocaine-laden boat spinning in circles, Simpson said.

Two of them escaped on foot, and Miami police caught a third man hiding in bushes north of the Omni International Mall.

"The guy they caught said he was just out fishing and he fell in," Simpson said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Len Baer identified the man as Raphael Soto, 35, of Miami. U.S. Magistrate Charlene H. Sorrentino ordered Soto held without bond in pretrial detention.

On the boat, the Coast Guard found a 9mm handgun and 1,909 pounds of cocaine -- 89 pounds more than the old record achieved when the sailboat Chinook was busted in the Yucatan Strait on April 1, 1984.

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