cocaine bust
An armed crew member of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Stratton keeps watch over more than 66,000 pounds of cocaine worth $1.01 billionReuters

More than 66,000lbs (29,937kg) large bricks of cocaine was docked in San Diego, hailed by officials as the largest drug off-load in history. The drugs haul was part of a four-month sting by the US Coast Guard off the Mexican, Central and South American coasts.

Part of the drugs recovered was $181m (£116m) worth of cocaine found on board drug-carrying vessels including submarines to slimmer, outboard-powered fishing boats called pangas, which can stretch to up to 15 metres long.

Pangas are used among rings like Mexico's Sinaloa cartel, run by Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, the US' most-wanted criminal who escaped from prison earlier this year, according to an Al Jazeera report.

The entire cargo took more than four hours to unload and the haul of 32 metric tonnes of cocaine and two tonnes of heroin weighed the equivalent to 17 average-sized cars.

Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Paul Zukunft said "every one of these bricks of cocaine was destined to the United States".

The cocaine alone would have amounted to 33 million "lines" for snorting, according to the US Drug Enforcement Administration.

Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson called the four-month operation a "huge success".

"Every day, the US Coast Guard performs missions vital to our homeland security, maritime security and public safety," Johnson added.

Zukunft said the huge haul stops drug lords having the "means to operate, the means to undermine regional stability, which is causing young boys and girls to flee crime-ridden countries to find refuge here in the United States".

"There is still work to be done," he added.

"We must increase already hard-earned momentum to curb the rising tide of crime, violence and instability in our hemisphere."