18,600 pounds or marijuana seized

June 21, 2012 at 7:17 PM

WASHINGTON, June 21 (UPI) -- About 18,600 pounds of marijuana were seized in a Pacific Ocean operation coordinated by the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz, the U.S. Navy said.

The Navy said in a news release the Nimitz had been conducting carrier flight qualifications off the California coast Saturday at 1:53 p.m. when sailors saw two vessels about 4 miles away, Stars and Stripes reported.

When a Seahawk helicopter approached, two 25-foot vessels sped toward the coast and dumped large, black trash bags, later found to contain 100-pound bales of marijuana, the Navy said.

About 3 hours later, the release said, the officer of the deck of the Nimitz spotted another small craft, which began dumping cargo after realizing it had been spotted by air, the Navy said.

The cruiser USS Princeton sent sailors in inflatable boats to seize several dozen bales, and a Mexican navy ship helped retrieve the remainder of 186 bales of marijuana recovered Saturday, Stars and Stripes said.

The marijuana was transferred to the Coast Guard cutter Edisto, the Navy said.

No drug runners were caught, Lt. Aaron Kakiel, spokesman with Naval Air Forces Pacific, told the U-T San Diego newspaper.

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