Disabled activists are calling on the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to release secret reports which could prove whether it has been engaging in a propaganda campaign to demonise disabled people in the media.DWP has told Disability News Service (DNS) that it will not release documents compiled by its own communications department that describe the impact of its briefings to the media on disability benefit reform.DWP initially denied that any such documents existed, but DNS has discovered that a monthly report is compiled describing the impact of its press releases and other media briefings.These reports could reveal how DWP has briefed mainstream newspapers – including the Daily Mail, the Sun and the Daily Express – on its social security reforms, and how it judged their subsequent coverage.Disabled activists and opposition politicians have repeatedly raised concerns that ministers or civil servants have briefed newspapers in a way that encourages them to report inaccurate and misleading articles with headlines such as “75 per cent of incapacity claimants are fit to work” and “Disabled benefit? Just fill in a form”.After DNS lodged a freedom of information request in August, asking “whether the department keeps a record of which actions by DWP communications have led to the publication of welfare stories that appear in the media”, DWP initially insisted that no such reports existed.It also denied keeping any record of complaints the department made about social security-based news stories that have appeared in national newspapers over the last five years.Following a fresh request by DNS on 19 September – after discovering a reference to monthly impact reports on a former press officer’s social media profile – DWP has now admitted that it does hold “some of the information” DNS is seeking.But it is now claiming an exemption under the Freedom of Information Act because, it says, releasing the information would “prejudice the commercial interests” of both DWP and “third parties”.DNS has asked DWP to review this decision, and plans to appeal to the Information Commissioner if it does not release the reports.A spokesman for Disabled People Against Cuts said: “It is very much in the public interest to know the extent to which the DWP have been engaging in a propaganda campaign to demonise disabled people in the media.“We already have evidence that this has and is taking place, and we require full disclosure – nothing less is acceptable.”A DWP spokeswoman appeared to suggest that the two FoI requests had asked for different information – which was why DNS was originally told such documents did not exist – and insisted that it did not hold a record of “DWP communications” work*.Asked what the commercial interests were that would be damaged by releasing the reports, she said: “You’ve already asked for a review into this [freedom of information] response.“You will receive the appropriate response once the correct processes have been followed.”And asked if the reports would show that the department had been engaging in a campaign to stir up hostility towards disabled people in the media in order to justify government cuts and reforms to disability benefits, she said: “We disagree with the premise of this question.“DWP press office and communications directorate is proud of the work we do to promote the interests of disabled people.“We promote schemes such as Access to Work, and through our Disability Confident campaign we have helped to dispel myths about employing disabled people and have highlighted the valuable contribution they make to the workplace.“We are particularly proud of our recent work with campaigning groups to persuade the Premier League to make all their stadia accessible by August 2017.”DWP has been the subject of a string of complaints from disabled activists and politicians over its communications with the media over the last five years.In 2011, work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith was criticised by the work and pensions select committee for “pandering to the Daily Mail” and sending out misleading press releases about incapacity benefit reform.Duncan Smith protested then that he was unable to control how the media covered welfare reform stories, but promised DWP would improve the way it dealt with statistics on disability benefits.Just 24 hours later, he provided quotes to selected news organisations – including the Mail – suggesting that thousands of disabled people were receiving disability living allowance they were not entitled to.In 2013, Esther McVey, at the time the Conservative minister for disabled people, claimed in the Mail on Sunday that coalition plans to abolish working-age DLA had led to a huge increase in applications by people desperate to claim the benefit before it was replaced by the new personal independence payment.The article talked of an “extraordinary ‘closing-down sale’ effect, with rocketing claims as people rush to get their hands on unchecked ‘welfare for life’ before McVey’s axe falls on April 8”.But the interview was based on government figures which actually showed the number of working-age claimants fell by more than 1,600 in the relevant three-month period.The following week, Duncan Smith repeated the claims, even though his department had been alerted to McVey’s use of the misleading figures.And last year, the disabled Tory peer Lord [Chris] Holmes, who heads the equality watchdog’s disability committee, was asked by members of the all-party parliamentary disability group if the hostile rhetoric of his party’s ministers had helped fuel hate crime.Ministers have repeatedly blamed the tabloid press for whipping up hostility towards disabled benefit claimants, and insist that they have done everything they can to “stop the rumour mill”.*By 9pm this evening (19 November), DWP had not been able to clarify how these two requests were different
A note from the editor:Please consider making a voluntary financial contribution to support the work of DNS and allow it to continue producing independent, carefully-researched news stories that focus on the lives and rights of disabled people and their user-led organisations. Please do not contribute if you cannot afford to do so, and please note that DNS is not a charity. It is run and owned by disabled journalist John Pring and has been from its launch in April 2009. Thank you for anything you can do to support the work of DNS… Disabled activists have called for a boycott of the UK’s first accessible shopping day because of its close links with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and fears that CCTV footage could be used to dispute disability benefit claims.Purple, the social enterprise formerly known as Essex Coalition of Disabled People, has secured the support of DWP for next week’s Purple Tuesday event but has denied that there is any “hidden agenda”.Tuesday’s (13 November) event has also secured at least 14 high-profile partners, including retailers M&S, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Argos, and shopping centre owners such as intu and Landsec.One of the partners, intu – which owns and runs shopping centres across the country – today (Thursday) refused to promise not to pass CCTV footage from the event to DWP, while Sainsbury’s has refused to answer questions.Purple is hoping to engage with another 500 retailers across the country, all of which will be asked to make at least one pledge to improve the experience of their disabled customers and show a video to their staff that describes five ways they can improve their customer service for disabled people.But Disability Labour, which represents disabled people who are members of the Labour party – but is independent of the party itself – has called for a boycott of the event.It has raised fears that those companies taking part could pass CCTV pictures from the day to DWP to use against disabled people who have made benefit claims.It highlighted how Sainsbury’s has previously admitted that it occasionally passes CCTV pictures to DWP.Fran Springfield, co-chair of Disability Labour, said: “Disability Labour are deeply concerned that the DWP, which harasses and persecutes disabled people on a daily basis, will use video footage to identify if claimants are shopping, what they’re purchasing and even how far they are walking.”She said the potential of retailers sharing CCTV from the event with DWP was a “huge concern” for disabled people.Springfield said: “I don’t trust DWP any further than I can throw them because of the way they have treated people.”She said Disability Labour was “dismayed” at the involvement of retailers in the campaign.Kathy Bole, co-vice chair of Disability Labour, said: “Sainsbury’s already has form in relation to sharing CCTV footage to spy on disabled benefit claimants.“Their surveillance of disabled people has led to increased distress and isolation.”Disabled People Against Cuts said it supported Disability Labour’s concerns because it had been told of a small number of cases in which disabled people had lost their entitlement to benefits in transferring from disability living allowance to personal independence payment after being found to be “able to go shopping in their wheelchairs”.Mike Adams (pictured), chief executive of Purple, said he was concerned that the boycott would “frighten the living daylights” out of retailers who had been prepared to “put their head above the parapet” and support the Purple Tuesday campaign.He said: “If I had hands, I would throw them up in the air.“I do understand the concerns and I do understand the worries that there might be a hidden agenda. There really, really isn’t.”Purple Tuesday was a “totally independent campaign initiative”, he said, which had received “not one penny” from DWP.He said: “I am frustrated because I thought we had been absolutely clear that this is not government-led or involved or paid for in any shape or form.“There is no agenda. This is absolutely about getting disabled people to be seen as customers and making sure that retailers are aware and understand how you can improve the shopping experience of disabled people.“I would urge them to seriously rethink the boycott. I think it is counter-productive to what we are trying to achieve.”He said there had “never been any conversations” about the sharing of CCTV footage and that “absolutely nothing” DWP had said had led him to believe that it would be using CCTV from the event as evidence to use against benefit claimants.More than 80 per cent of Purple’s board are disabled people, and the organisation provides training for employers, and works with disabled people to find jobs, recruit personal assistants and manage their direct payments.Adams said Purple Tuesday was “an initiative that has been crafted, created, coordinated and delivered by a disability organisation”.He said Purple Tuesday was about awareness-raising on the day itself, but also about “what then happens for the following 365 days”, while a call had gone out to disabled people to describe their “good and bad” retail experiences.He added: “I think it is incredibly important that society understands and sees disabled people as real valued people who have money to spend and who deserve by absolute default a right to a good customer experience.“It is my view that if businesses improve their customer services, more disabled people will spend their money with them, and that will drive business to want to reflect in their workforce their consumer base.“That is an approach that I am hoping will start to really make inroads into some of the inequality… on employment, education, well-being.“I think it goes hand-in-hand with the work that we do to support disabled people on a day-to-day basis.”DWP said that any claims that it would use CCTV footage from the event as evidence that disabled people were not eligible for certain benefits were “categorically untrue”.A DWP spokeswoman said: “We have not provided funding to Purple but we have worked closely with them to facilitate Purple Tuesday and ensure it is a success.”Sainsbury’s had refused to comment on the boycott call by 1pm today (Thursday), and also refused to say if it had ever shared CCTV footage with DWP to use as evidence to justify rejecting a benefit claim.It also refused to promise that it would not share such footage from Purple Tuesday with DWP.An intu spokesman said: “Purple is one of many different organisations we work with in order to identify new ways to improve our physical spaces, customer service and employee support, so that we can ensure intu shopping centres are accessible destinations for all.“We are unaware of any links between Purple Tuesday and the DWP and we think it would be a shame if the event is boycotted because of the valuable insight and awareness it is creating for this important cause.“Like other organisations, intu is governed by current legislation which means that we would only share CCTV footage with individuals and public authorities in line with GDPR [data protection] requirements and under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.“These requests are always fully scrutinised in line with current legislation.”But he refused to pledge that intu would not pass CCTV footage from Purple Tuesday to DWP.An M&S spokeswoman said the retailer had “never shared CCTV footage with the DWP to use as evidence to justify rejecting a benefit claim”.She added: “As we don’t share footage with the DWP, we won’t do it on Purple Tuesday.”She said: “Purple Tuesday is a great opportunity to increase awareness and understanding of the challenges our disabled customers face so that we can improve the shopping experience for them.“The accessibility of our stores and website is extremely important to us and we’re delighted to support it.”A Landsec spokeswoman said the company “would not share any CCTV with the DWP, unless we were served with a court order to do so”.She added: “Landsec is committed to making its retail destinations as accessible as possible, for the sole reason that we believe in creating spaces which everyone is able to enjoy equally.“While we recognise that, for the retail industry, Purple Tuesday is a move in the right direction, rather than a complete solution, we’re pleased to be able to raise awareness of the importance of disability access.”
An open letter demanding the resignation of Labour’s defence spokesperson Nia Griffith has reached almost 1,500 signatures, after the opposition frontbencher tweeted apparently in support of government proposals to grant veterans immunity from prosecution.Penny Mordaunt, the new Defence Secretary, recently revealed plans to introduce an amnesty for alleged offences committed by British soldiers in the course of duty over 10 years ago. The cabinet is divided over whether this should cover soldiers who served during the Troubles in Northern Ireland.Many Labour members on the left, particularly those interested in the anti-imperialism and anti-militarism traditionally espoused by Jeremy Corbyn, expressed strong opposition to the suggestion when the six-day-old tweet by Griffith gained traction last night.Glad to hear this from the new Defence Sec.The Tories made a commitment to deal with this back in 2017 and it‘s shameful that no action has been taken.Labour will support any proposals that are effective and fair and I look forward to working with @PennyMordaunt on this. https://t.co/2dn2pBDzbr— Nia Griffith MP (@NiaGriffithMP) May 9, 2019An open letter written by two Scottish Labour members, Ewan Gibbs and Michael Muir, criticises the position expressed by Griffith, which it says “legitimates the most reactionary elements of British society”.Addressed to Corbyn, it calls on the national executive committee (NEC) to “discuss and clarify the party’s stance” and demands that the party leadership take action if Griffith refuses to resign.It is understood that a reference to the NEC, a body that usually deals with the application of party rules rather than policy-making, was included in the letter as a way of encouraging NEC members to ask Corbyn whether Griffith’s stance accurately reflects Labour policy.The online letter was promoted by NEC youth rep Lara McNeill, and has been signed by high-profile activists including Momentum chair Jon Lansman, NEC member Huda Elmi and Young Labour’s Marcus Barnett.Although the names have not been updated at the time of writing, LabourList has seen that the letter has attracted almost 1,500 signatures. Most so far are from young Labour members.Young Labour, London Young Labour and Scottish Young Labour have all released statements calling for Griffith’s suspension or resignation from the shadow cabinet.Update, 1.10pm. Momentum has called on Griffith to “retract her statement”:We can’t just give soldiers a blank cheque to commit war crimes. It would dishonour all those soldiers and civilians who have been killed in war and we have to hold our military to the highest standards. @NiaGriffithMP was totally wrong and should retract her statement.— Momentum (@PeoplesMomentum) May 16, 2019LabourList has requested comment from the Labour press office but none has been offered at this time.Tags:Penny Mordaunt /Nia Griffith /Lara McNeill /Defence policy /
Supervisor Aaron Peskin was this morning flanked by a minivan’s worth of his legislative colleagues, as well as the District Attorney, the inveterate good-government activist, and a front-running mayoral candidate.They were gathered in a City Hall antechamber to talk about the man who was not there, the man behind the curtain — the favorite human allegory of all that ails San Francisco for Peskin and his ideological compadres: Ron Conway. Tags: Board of Supervisors • Elections • Mayor Share this: FacebookTwitterRedditemail,0% “This is not about Ron Conway or any other investors with handfuls of cash to float around,” Peskin at one point said during a press conference that was very much about Conway, et al., and announcing legislation very much aimed at Conway, et al.“Mr. Conway is a symptom of a much larger problem in San Francisco and this country and that is the Wall Street mentality of routinely putting profits over people.”Peskin and his bevy of legislative co-sponsors were announcing today’s introduction of an ordinance meant to curtail the unlimited spigot of cash Conway and others have dumped into city elections — the massive, hard-to-track work of political action committees (PACs) and independent expenditure campaigns (IEs) enabled by the Citizens United Supreme Court case.“If I could ban these sorts of donations, I would,” assured Peskin. But he can’t, thanks to “a right-wing Supreme Court that has fallen under the influence of the Koch brothers.”Instead, if he and others have their way, major donors will have to disclose not only who they are but what investment holdings they possess — which may, in Peskin’s words, “connect the dots” for voters wondering why money flows in the patterns it does.Specifically, this legislation would — retroactively to Jan. 1 — require any individual or entity who makes a donation of $10,000 or more to a committee to disclose this within 24 hours, and also disclose investments or leadership ties with city business entities.During this gathering that wasn’t about Ron Conway, Peskin continually dropped examples that seemed strangely germane to Ron Conway.“This is retroactive to Jan. 1, so I’m putting anyone on notice who’ll dump millions into supervisors races or mayors races: You’ll have to tell everyone whether you’ve invested in Airbnb or Lyft. … You’ll have to tell everyone what your investments are.”Peskin all but dared London Breed — the board president and, whether she likes it or not, Conway’s preferred mayoral candidate — to not fast-track his bill.Breed, no fool, agreed to fast-track the bill. Mayor Mark Farrell has, purportedly, known of this legislation for some time, and supported its creation. Peskin told the gathered crowd that the mayor had pledged to sign it, and he hoped it would pass with a supermajority. At the soonest, this could be the law of the land before April.That would be to the liking of Mark Leno, who bemoaned the pro-Breed PAC currently demonizing him (Leno, notably, blamed the “extraordinary amount of new money” in San Francisco for clouding voters’ ability to make decisions). Breed, who was invited to today’s press conference, did not attend. Fellow candidate Jane Kim, a co-sponsor of the legislation, also did not attend, though she blamed a scheduling mishap.For any candidate hoping an anonymously funded PAC would shoot the wings off their opponents, or any operative looking to do just that, today was a frustrating day. The pro-Breed PAC that has used undisclosed donations to blast Leno, Peskin, Farrell, Jeff Sheehy and others described the pending legislation as an effort to “silence women under the guise of campaign ethics legislation” and a “phony gimmick” meant to “intimidate women from exercising their constitutional right to support London Breed for Mayor.”That may be, but considering the retroactive portion of the legislation, this group would have to do all of the above while disclosing their large donors. And quickly.Politically, keeping Conway’s name in the news — and converting him into a rich, white albatross around Breed’s neck — has emerged as an obvious campaign tactic. And sometimes it seems Conway can’t help himself with regard to staying out of the news.When reports hit the papers that Conway was a prior investor in Farrell’s venture capital firm, it was pretty clear that this information wasn’t disclosed by the secretive, private firm — leaving relatively little doubt where it originated.Similarly, when a memo to investors in Farrell’s firm touting the “intangible benefits” of eventually having a former mayor on staff was leaked to multiple media outlets, blame was, again, assigned to a certain investor in that firm.“This is proof that Ron Conway and his associates are throwing their weight around,” Peskin told the Chronicle. All of this spurred one frustrated political onlooker to note that the best way to be a Koch brother operating out of view is to stay out of view.Asked about his bill’s chances of escaping legal scrutiny, Peskin, once more, took aim at Conway. “I would not be surprised,” he said, “if some billionaire took us to court.” City lefties are in their happy place: They get to target a gauche tech billionaire in a good-government campaign. 0%
Tags: arts • graffiti • street art Share this: FacebookTwitterRedditemail,0% Some are pink, some are blue and some are orange. Some have halos over their heads and some are surrounded by stars and hearts of bliss. Some are tall, some are short, some are fat, some are skinny. Some even say, “Plug me in.” They hang out on mailboxes, walls, street poles, newsstands and wooden boards. In the Mission, they’re everywhere. And, yes, they’re vibrators. Just any vibrator? “It’s a wand-style vibrator — probably a Magic Wand,” says Haley, a resident vibrator expert at Good Vibrations, adding that the shape, location of the button, and the cord are extra evidence that it is, indeed, a wand. “The Magic Wand is an icon at this point,” she added. “It’s been our best seller since the ‘70s.” 24th and Harrison. Photo by Julian Mark.23rd & Mission. Photo by Julian Mark.21st & Mission. Photo by Julian Mark.20th & Mission. Photo by Julian Mark.18th & Mission. Photo by Julian Mark.Mission Street between 18th and 19th. Photo by Julian Mark.The inspiration. Photo by Julian Mark. 0% Did she know why anyone would blanket the Mission with the iconic toy? She had no idea. “It’s probably some sex-positive artist,” she said, “although I hope he doesn’t mark up our building.”Mission Street. Photo by Julian Mark.Mission between 21st and 22nd. Photo by Julian Mark.21st and South Van Ness. Photo by Julian Mark.Mission Street. Photo by Julian Mark.24th & Harrison. Photo by Julian Mark.24th & Florida. Photo by Julian Mark.20th & Valencia. Photo by Julian Mark.23rd & Mission. Photo by Julian Mark.
MIKE Rush has thrown down the gauntlet to his charges to carry on winning – or be pulled into a battle for the lower playoff places.Speaking ahead of this Friday’s clash with seventh-placed Hull KR, Saints Acting Head Coach wants to continue the run of form that has seen them climb to fourth in the table.“Would we have taken fourth when we took over? We probably would have,” he said. “What you’re asking me is if I would have taken two defeats in 12 league games or so… then I’m sure we would have.“But we have a real test this Friday, Hull KR are playing well and alongside Wigan and us, are one of the form teams in the competition. We will need to make sure we are at our very best. Michael Dobson, Ben Galea and Craig Hall are all playing well for them and even though they have lost Kris Welham and Rhys Lovegrove they are still a class side.“The eight will be tight right up until the end of the season and it is up to us to keep winning, stay in there and not get dragged into a battle for fifth to eighth.”Saints came through the 32-10 win over Salford with Rush highlighting the backline of Paul Wellens, Tommy Makinson and Francis Meli as “outstanding”.“They were great on Friday I thought,” he continued. “Francis Meli was really physical and a real handful and was complemented by Tommy Makinson who is lightning fast. Paul Wellens backed all that up really well. It was great to get a win at a place we normally struggle at.“It was good to see Lee Gaskell get some game time too but he knows he has to keep working hard. He probably has to work harder than anyone in the starting 17 at the moment as when you are on the outer you have to work harder than those on the inner to break through.“Sometimes it isn’t easy to knock someone over when you are winning games but I thought he did well at the weekend. Lee has been with us since he was 11 and I am a big fan; if I wasn’t I wouldn’t have signed him, but people have to understand he is still young and he still needs game sense and work on other facets of his game.“Jamie Foster is the same really but probably has a tougher task. Adam Swift has had a run in the team and has done well. Tommy Makinson and Francis Meli are in great form and Ade Gardner, up until his injury, was the best of all of them. You have to feel for Ade there, he was outstanding against Leeds and Warrington.“We’re doing well for wingers at the moment so Jamie has to work hard. He has to do something special in the under 20s to knock somebody over in the first team.”Tickets for the match are still on sale by visiting the Ticket Office at Langtree Park, calling 01744 455 052 or by logging on here.
SINCE we launched our special one off shirt to raise awareness of Autism – and help St Helens Autism Support – fans from all over the Rugby League world have been sharing the news on social media.We couldn’t be more proud of the rugby league community in highlighting this important condition and spreading the word – and we thank you as all.We’ve also had support from across all different kinds of sport such as Boxing, Football, Cricket, the NRL and Rugby Union as well as stars from TV, Film and Music.Footballer and pundit Joey Barton said it was an “interesting shirt for a good cause” whilst comedian Johnny Vegas said “good on you Saints” for highlighting Autism.Other tweets came from cricketing legend Sir Ian Botham, NRL’s Cameron Smith, cross-code star Gareth Thomas MBE, boxers Anthony Crolla, Martin Murray and Paul Smith JNR and Ireland RU’s Ronan O’Gara.McFly’s Harry Judd also highlighted the kit on his Twitter page, as did St Helens Actor Michael Parr, singer Kiera Weathers, The Beautiful South’s Jacqui Abbott and MP Andy Burnham.Saints’ players backed the launch too as did Beau Ryan, Sia Soliola, ex-player Apollo Perelini, commentator Andrew Voss, Penrith CEO Gus Gould and Mark Geyer.And naturally, the Steve Prescott Foundation also lent their support.Other supporters included several Super League clubs and ex-players including Tommy Martyn, Paul Sculthorpe MBE and Paul Wellens, Rugby Union’s Mark Cueto, Mike Tindall, Ugo Monye and Tom Evans and TV personalities Gethin Jones and Rav Wilding.Once again, we thank everyone who has backed the shirt and there’s no doubt it is raising Autism awareness.We estimate that well in excess of five million people and followers have had access to the information.The special edition kit will be worn in Newcastle at the Magic Weekend when we take on Huddersfield Giants on May 22.We have had an excellent response to it – if you’re planning to order you need to do so by April 14.A donation from every shirt sold will go to local support group St Helens Autism Support.You can buy at the Saints Superstore, via 01744 455 050 or online.
SAINTS 2017 Members can enjoy a whole host of great offers and discounts – and we have a bumper selection for you!Simply present your Membership card at the outlets below and enjoy your benefits!Costa Coffee (Ravenhead Retail Park, St Helens Retail Park & Town Centre) – 10 per cent off across all St Helens branchesNandos (Bridge Street, St Helens) – 20 per cent off food Frankie & Benny’s (Ravenhead Retail Park) – 20 per cent off foodSubway (Bridge Street, St Helens & Ravenhead Retail Park) – £3.60 for 6 inch or £5 for foot-long meal deals Maplin (St Helens Retail Park) – 10 per cent offDarkstar (Central Street, St Helens) – 3 games for the price of 2My Protein – use code STH10 at checkout for 10 per cent off.
WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — It’s the fifth show of the season for Big Dawg Productions.According to their website, “12 Angry Men” is a uniquely American classic. The play follows one man who “refuses to succumb to prejudice so that 12 men can prevent a miscarriage of justice.”- Advertisement – The action centers on juror 8, who is at first the sole holdout in an 11-1 guilty vote. He sets his sights on getting the other jurors to look at the situation in a way not affected by their personal prejudices. The play’s original broadcast was in 1957.One of the cast members, Anthony Corvino, stopped by Good Morning Carolina to give a preview of what to expect.Related Article: Iconic Wilmington tour guide Bob Jenkins dies“12 Angry Men” comes to life at the Cape Fear Playhouse in Wilmington throughout the month of August.Performances are August 10-12 at 8 p.m., August 13 at 3 p.m., August 17-19 at 8 p.m., and August 20 at 3 p.m.Tickets range from $20 to $22. To purchase them, click here or email email@example.com
The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton offloaded approximately 14,000 pounds of cocaine today in Port Everglades. (Photo: USCGSoutheast/Twitter) FORT LAUDERDALE, FL (WWAY) — Seven tons of cocaine was seized and offloaded at Port Everglades in Florida by the U.S. Coast Guard. The Wilmington-based Coast Guard Cutter Diligence assisted in that large drug bust.In a video released by the Coast Guard Tuesday morning, the crew on board the Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton can be seen approaching cocaine smugglers in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. Minutes before making contact, the smugglers can be seen dumping their cargo into the ocean in an attempt to hide their crime.- Advertisement – “It’s pretty intense. I think everybody’s heart rate gets going, and we’re all trying to stay focused on what we’re doing,” said Assistant Operations Officer Drew Ferraro.According to officials, the haul totals more than $190 million and is set to arrive at Port Everglades at 8 a.m., Tuesday, a little over a week since the drugs were seized. The cocaine arriving is from the Feb. 4 bust involving the Hamilton, Diligence and crews of three other cutters.The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton offloaded approximately 14,000 pounds of cocaine today in Port Everglades. Read more here https://t.co/BWuC3PFvww pic.twitter.com/jqmqPAo6S2— USCGSoutheast (@USCGSoutheast) February 13, 2018Related Article: DRUG ROUNDUP: Sheriff’s office sweeps Brunswick streets“I know the communities of South Florida have first-hand history with the dangers of transactional criminal organizations and highly profitable drugs,” said Hamilton Capt. Mark Gordon. “No one wants to see a return to the days of cocaine cowboys.”Back on Dec. 7, the crew of another Coast Guard cutter brought back a similar haul of seized cocaine. The commander of that vessel explained what’s at stake in those kinds of missions.“These at-sea interdictions are often high-tempo, high-risk evolutions that occur in the dark of night,” said Commander Michael Turdo.Keeping the drugs off the street is a major blow to organized crime networks and the wide range of illegal activities they take part in.Some officers, like Morgan Bal, have personal motivations on keeping the drugs off the streets. “As someone who personally lost a loved one to overdose, I feel like I’m doing my part to making sure other family and friends and loved ones don’t lose somebody else,” Bal said.A total of 27 people have been detained as part of this operation. Eighteen of them were brought back to the United States, while the rest of them were deported to Ecuador.The Drug Enforcement Administration is now taking over the investigation and will ultimately destroy the drugs.