POTUS Trump: In 3 Months, 1,000 Drug Trafficking Arrests, 120 Metric Tons Interdicted

On Friday, U.S. President Donald J. Trump visited Southern Command to announce the success and ongoing operations in the Gulf of Mexico and the U.S. borders to stop the flow of narcotics into the country.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Dr. Mark T. Esper, accompanying the president, said the drug cartels have destroyed far too many American lives by smuggling heroin, cocaine, fentanyl and methamphetamines into the United States, leading to drug overdoses and addiction in many communities.

In total, 16 federal agencies and 20 international partners have contributed in efforts to stop the cartels from transporting their narcotics across international borders in several countries.

President Trump began the briefing by saying, “In just 12 weeks, Southcom’s surge operation conducted with key regional partners has resulted in more than 1,000 arrests and the interdiction of 120 metric tons.”

Trump continued, “I can only tell you, that’s a lot of narcotics worth billions and billions of dollars. We’re determined to keep dangerous drugs out of the country and away from our children. We’re securing our seas. We’re securing our borders. This is a new operation [that has] not been done before. And this operation has been incredibly successful.”

President Donald J. Trump talks with Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper and Navy Adm. Craig Faller, commander of U.S. Southern Command, at SOUTHCOM headquarters in Doral, Florida. The President visited SOUTHCOM to take part in a roundtable with cabinet members, command leaders and subject matter experts to get an update on the progress of enhanced counter narcotics operations in Latin America and the Caribbean. (Photo by Michael C. Dougherty, U.S. Southern Command Public Affairs)

The importance of the seizures goes beyond just the illegal narcotics sales and the direct consequences as the financial gains they make from the sale of narcotics also goes into funding other nefarious operations and causes disruptions throughout Mexico, Central America, South America and the Caribbean.

Secretary Esper said, “Despite the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, our enhanced counter narcotics operations have shown great success in countering those threats by disrupting the flow of illicit drugs, denying our adversaries financial resources, and strengthening the capacity of partner countries in the region.”

Since President Trump began stepping up efforts to combat drug trafficking in the Carribean, there are now 75% more surveillance aircraft and 65% more ships than usual for drug interdiction in the Eastern Pacific area and the Caribbean.

President Trump’s positive international relations have been a major component in the successful operation of the interagency interdiction of drug traffickers and the seizure of narcotics in the region. The Southcom commander said international partner participation is key. Intelligence and information sharing, joint training and enhanced national capabilities make the international partners forces to be reckoned with.

A boarding team member from the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Steadfast (WMEC 623) opens a bale of contraband after the crew interdicted a suspected smuggling vessel while patrolling international waters of the Eastern Pacific Ocean resulting in 1,252 pounds of cocaine seized, worth an estimated $21.5 million, and three suspected smugglers detained, March 15, 2020. On April 1, U.S. Southern Command began enhanced counter-narcotics operations in the Western Hemisphere to disrupt the flow of drugs in support of Presidential national security objectives supported by numerous U.S. agencies from the Departments of Defense, Justice and Homeland Security cooperated in the effort to combat transnational organized crime. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

International partners have also joined the effort and have stepped up their involvement in drug interdictions. “We denied nearly $2 billion in drug profits, increased our targeting of known smuggling maritime events by 60% and neutralized dozens of members of transnational criminal organizations,” Esper said. “These efforts have been critical to saving countless American lives and making our communities … healthier, safer and stronger.”

The Southcom commander said international partner participation is key. Intelligence and information sharing, joint training and enhanced national capabilities make the international partners forces to be reckoned with.

A Coast Guard Cutter Stratton (WMSL 752) boarding team searches a suspected smuggling vessel interdicted in international waters of the Eastern Pacific Ocean, May 31, 2020. The team seized more than 1,500 pounds of cocaine from the suspected smuggling vessel. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

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