A high-seas shootout pitting drug runners against the law ended with the smugglers’ boat at the bottom of the Caribbean Sea and the US Coast Guard seizing $63m worth of cocaine, authorities in Florida said on Friday.

The dramatic encounter took place on Tuesday about 25 miles (40km) north of Puerto Cabello, Venezuela, when the coast guard cutter Resolute – patrolling with the Dutch navy ship Groningen – identified a vessel in international waters suspected of carrying narcotics, according to a press release from the USCG south-east region.

The crew of a joint forces fast interception craft fired on the suspected smugglers when the “non-compliant vessel” was turned at speed towards them, and the boat caught fire and sank. The US and Dutch sailors acted “in self-defense and defense of others in response to the life-threatening situation”, the press release said.

On Friday, the US Coast Guard and Dutch authorities said they had called off an air and sea search for the three persons onboard the boat, who went overboard when it caught alight.

A day earlier, the Coast Guard said in a tweet published on Thursday, Resolute docked at Port Everglades, Florida, and unloaded more than 4,800lb (2,177kg) of cocaine – valued at about $63m – recovered from the scene.

There were no reported injuries to any members of the joint law enforcement operation, officials said.

“Our crews work hard to safely bring suspected smugglers to face federal prosecution in the US for alleged crimes,” Lt Cmdr John Beal, public affairs officer for USCG district seven, headquartered in Miami, said in a statement.

“The missions our coast guard service members and allied partners do every day to deny transnational criminal organizations access to maritime smuggling routes are inherently dangerous. The decision to suspend active search efforts is not one we take lightly, and the coast guard is working to investigate the incident in accordance with coast guard policy.”

The region is one of the coast guard’s busiest for encounters with drug smugglers – as well as interdictions at sea of migrants attempting to reach the US.

Also on Friday, in a separate case, the crew of the coast guard cutter Charles David Jr offloaded 540lb (245kg) of cocaine in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and transferred nine suspected smugglers into the custody of the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

The cocaine, worth $7.4m, according to another USCG press release, was seized in the early hours of Monday after the USCG cutter Heriberto Hernández located a suspect vessel about 75 miles (121km) south of St Croix in the US Virgin Islands.

“The crew observed the occupants of the suspect vessel jettison multiple packages overboard,” the statement said, adding that nine men arrested onboard the boat claimed to be Venezuelan nationals.

“The cutter crew … recovered multiple packages of the jettisoned cargo and seized a total of 10 bales and two additional bags, with individual packages, which tested positive for cocaine.”

Denise Foster, DEA special agent in charge of the investigation, said: “The successful interdiction and seizure underscore the relentless commitment and collaboration of our federal, local, and regional partners in combating drug trafficking in the Caribbean.”