Cartels and gangs throughout Central and South America, as well as Mexico, continue to promote fear, violence, corruption and death as they devastate natural resources and exploit citizens and institutions to move drugs, children and weapons for profit. Americans see the symptoms of these nefarious networks when children flock to our borders to escape violence and the U.S. consumer demand for drugs and the associated societal costs continues to rise.
Federal agencies and international partners are working tirelessly in the United States and abroad to combat Transnational Organized Crime networks. These efforts have been instrumental in eradicating production facilities and controlling the purchase of precursor chemicals used to make drugs; interrupting mobility corridors when illegal narcotics are being moved to stockpile locations; and integrating efforts to disrupt drug shipments and the distribution chain to impact the network itself.
Sometimes a person gets a weird feeling in the pit of their stomach because there is more to a situation than meets the eye. This feeling is commonly referred to as a person’s “sixth sense.” Coast Guard boarding officers are trained to follow that “sixth sense” while they’re conducting counter narcotics operations in the Eastern Pacific and Caribbean Basin. That’s exactly what happened to Petty Officer Matthew Baasch and a boarding team from the Cutter Bertholf when they climbed aboard the fishing vessel Goliat I off the coast of Colombia on June 28.
Coast Guard Cutter Forward recently completed an international naval exercise to build partnerships between 15 nations. Who was the key to connecting those partner nations? Seaman Juan Garcia-Perez. As a dual citizen of the United States and Colombia, and a fluent Spanish speaker, Garcia-Perez was the lead communicator for maritime forces during Forward’s participation in UNITAS 2013.
What happens when the U.S. Coast Guard partners with the Royal Navy? An estimated wholesale value of $16 million worth of drugs never made it on the streets. The interdiction of 2,155 pounds of marijuana and 420 kilograms of cocaine stemmed from two separate interdictions near San Andres, Colombia. The first interdiction involved the Royal Navy warship HMS Lancaster with a U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment Team aboard.
Coast Guard Cutter Forward, a 270-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Portsmouth, Va., represented the United States alongside their shipmates from the USS Rentz. They were joined by naval forces from Belize, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Germany, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Peru and the United Kingdom.
Relationships between the United States and countries in Central and South America are critical to the Coast Guard’s continuing efforts to intercept the flow of drugs in the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean, key maritime transit zones leading to the U.S. border. For one Coast Guardsman, building a partnership between two nations became a reality.
Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Bob Papp meets members of the National Police of Colombia. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley. The relationships between the United States and countries in Central and South America are critical to the Coast Guard’s continuing efforts to intercept the flow of drugs in the Caribbean