U.S. Coast Guard officials say one of its cutters has seized $125 million worth of cocaine from a fishing trawler off the coast of South America -- the biggest maritime seizure of drugs on the Atlantic Ocean in nearly 30 years.

Coast Guard officials say 4.2 tons of cocaine were found on a 70-foot fishing vessel called the “Lady Michelle” after the Cutter Joseph Napier intercepted the vessel off the coast of the country of Suriname on the night of Feb. 16. Suriname is a sparsely-populated country of vast jungles in northeastern South America, north of Brazil and between Guyana and French Guyana.

The U.S. State Department says because of its isolated jungles and weak border controls drug traffickers are able to move drug shipments into, through and out of Suriname with little fear of being caught.

Largest drug seizure in the Atlantic since 1999

But on this particular night four suspected drug smugglers on board the Lady Michelle were caught and numerous bales of cocaine crammed into the vessel were seized. Officials say it’s the largest maritime drug seizure in the Atlantic since 1999. The Coast Guard did not release the names of the four smugglers, but say they’re all from Guyana. The four smugglers are expected to be prosecuted in U.S. federal court.

“As the cocaine flow from South America continues to increase, law enforcement partners in the Eastern Caribbean Region have to increase our collaborative efforts in order to effectively respond to the threat,” James Doby, Assistant Special Agent in Charge with the Drug Enforcement Administration said in a statement released after the drugs were offloaded in San Juan, Puerto Rico on Monday.

Bust follows other major drug seizures

The bust comes after several Coast Guard cutters returned to their ports in December with a combined haul of nearly $800 million worth of cocaine seized from vessels in the waters of the Caribbean and off the coast of South America. Also in January, a U.S. Border Customs and Border Protection patrol plane teamed up with a U.S.

Navy patrol ship and a Coast Guard law enforcement detachment to intercept and seize a “go-fast” boat that was crammed with an estimated $30 million worth of cocaine off the coast of the Dominican Republic.

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