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News Link • Prisons & Incarceration in America

The US Coast Guard is operating floating prisons in the Pacific Ocean, outside US legal protections

• pri.org By Traci Tong

Now, it turns out, there's a secret US detention system in the War on Drugs, too — and this one is aboard US Coast Guard cutters sailing in the Pacific Ocean.

In an effort to staunch the flow of cocaine and other hard drugs from South America to Central America and points north, Coast Guard cutters have been deployed farther and farther from the shore in the Pacific Ocean. When these cutters capture a boat carrying drugs, the smugglers are brought onto the ships and kept shackled to the deck, sometimes outside in the elements, until the Coast Guard makes arrangements for them to be transported back to the US for trial.

But this isn't a wait of just a few hours or days. Often, these waits can last weeks or months, according to new reporting from The New York Times. Coast Guard officials say they can do this because the drug smugglers aren't under arrest until they reach US shores, but some of the worst cases are drawing criticism even from Coast Guard officials.

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