The U.S. Coast Guard Office of Law Enforcement Policy and the Department of State Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs co-hosted the 24th Multilateral Maritime Counter-Drug Summit (MMCDS) in Alexandria, Virginia on June 18th and 19th.
The 24th MMCDS was the largest summit to date, with over 170 maritime counter drug professionals in attendance from operational and legal communities representing 23 countries across the Caribbean, North, Central and South America. The annual summit serves as a continuing dialogue between maritime and justice sectors of both source and transit zone countries with the primary objective to further regional awareness of the air, surface, and submersible threats while advancing regional maritime interoperability to effectively combat illicit trafficking.
Vice Adm. Daniel Abel was the senior Coast Guard Representative and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Richard Glenn served as the Keynote Speaker for the event. Together, they accentuated participants’ endeavors to deter, detect, and disrupt transnational criminal organizations often at great individual and national risk and sacrifice. Abel encouraged all representatives to continue developing strong international partnerships throughout the Summit and continue to restrict those Transnational Criminal Organizations’ freedom of movement. Glenn emphasized the importance for law enforcement to apply uniform pressure to reduce illicit narcotic supply, increase prevention, and advance treatment strategies without introducing vulnerabilities for illicit traffickers to exploit. Both speakers reinforced the need for continued flexibility to combat an agile adversary, which resonated throughout discussions and presentations during the two-day Summit.
The MMCDS provides an excellent opportunity for counter drug experts to engage in capacity building dialogue and promote interoperability. Partner nations used private meeting rooms to discuss bilateral agreements and strategic counter drug operations. In addition to independent bilateral negotiations, 20 presenters described legal and operational lessons learned on a variety of counter narcotics related strategies and capabilities. All partner nations represented at the Summit shared concerns regarding legal boundaries, logistical hurdles, and prosecutorial challenges associated with effective and efficient law enforcement operations.
The 25th MMCDS is expected to convene outside of the Continental United States in late Spring 2020.