Photo from the US Coast Guard.
On Jan. 21, 1999, The U.S. Coast Guard seized a ship on its way to Texas carrying over 9,500 pounds of cocaine. It was one of the biggest drug busts in U.S. history.
The ship, a 580-foot Greek-owned freighter called “Cannes,” was transporting 26,000 metric tons of iron ore from Brazil to Houston, Texas.
As stated in a New York Times article from 1999, Coast Guard officers boarded the ship in the Caribbean with permission from the captain. The first search team found nothing, but the second discovered footprints in the mountain of iron ore. This made them suspicious, so they searched the iron ore until they found almost five tons of cocaine under it.
“This amount of cocaine could put at least one dose of the drug in the hand of every schoolchild across America, from preschool to high school,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater during a news conference at the Houston Ship Channel.
According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, the cocaine was worth $186 million. Five of the 24 members of the ship’s crew were arrested, including the captain.