Transnational organized crime is a 750 billion dollar enterprise. Motivated by profit, criminal organizations drive widespread instability in South and Central America as they exploit vulnerable populations by trafficking drugs, children, bulk cash and weapons.
Tag: western hemisphere
The U.S. Coast Guard marked the end of a record year in counterdrug operations as the crew of Cutter Waesche from Alameda, California, offloaded more than 39,000 pounds of cocaine in San Diego, Oct. 27, 2016. The Coast Guard’s counternarcotics operations are part of a U.S. government effort to dismantle transnational organized crime networks from increasing violence and instability in the Western Hemisphere.
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.
The name “Coast Guard” can be a little deceiving. Many people don’t realize Coast Guardsmen are deployed around the world conducting a variety of military, law enforcement, regulatory and humanitarian missions. One of its most significant expeditionary missions is counter narcotics in the Western Hemisphere; more specifically, stopping drug smugglers in the “drug transit zones” of the Eastern Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Basin.
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.
“Our crew used their unique capabilities and authorities as a military service, law enforcement agency, and member of the U.S. intelligence community to disrupt transnational organized crime networks in the Eastern Pacific and keep drugs from making it to the U.S.,” said Capt. Edward A. Westfall, commanding officer of Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell. “These illegal drug networks are dangerous breeding grounds for all types of trafficking and their immense profits fuel violence and instability.”
The U.S. Coast Guard Western Hemisphere Strategy is built around three priorities, combating networks, securing borders and safeguarding commerce. To meet these priorities, the strategy emphasizes the critical importance of offshore vessel and aircraft presence to support effective governance and sovereignty, as well as other concepts to ensure long-term success. That long-term vision relies heavily upon the ongoing acqusition of national security cutters and fast response cutters and future acquisition of offshore patrol cutters by the service but also requires us to lean heavily on an aging medium endurance cutter fleet made up of 210-foot and 270-foot cutters, some of which have been operational for as many as 45 years.
This morning Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft signed the Coast Guard Western Hemisphere Strategy. It addresses transnational threats and maritime challenges that threaten the security of our Nation, markets and oceans over the next 10 years. The Coast Guard is globally deployed, but our primary operating area remains in the Western Hemisphere. As we engage future challenges we must think strategically to best position our resources to leverage our unique authorities, capabilities and partnerships to achieve national objectives across the range of Coast Guard missions.
With eight of the top 10 most violent nations residing in the Western Hemisphere and transnational organized crime networks acting as non-state actors, relationships between America’s military services and law enforcement agencies with their counterparts throughout the region are more important than ever. And, every Coast Guard port call is an opportunity to build and nurture those critical partnerships.