Multinational Operation Targets Transnational Organized Crime

MIAMI, Feb. 8, 2012 — The Unit­ed States is join­ing with Euro­pean and West­ern Hemi­sphere part­ners in a multi­na­tion­al effort tar­get­ing illic­it traf­fick­ing routes in coastal waters along the Cen­tral Amer­i­can isth­mus.

Joint Inter­a­gency Task Force South, a com­po­nent of U.S. South­ern Com­mand, today announced its par­tic­i­pa­tion in Oper­a­tion Mar­tillo. Mar­tillo is the Span­ish word for “ham­mer.”

The U.S. con­tri­bu­tion to the multi­na­tion­al detec­tion, mon­i­tor­ing and inter­dic­tion oper­a­tion includes Navy and Coast Guard ves­sels and air­craft from fed­er­al law enforce­ment agen­cies, work­ing with mil­i­tary and law enforce­ment units from var­i­ous nations to deny transna­tion­al crim­i­nal orga­ni­za­tions the abil­i­ty to move nar­cotics, pre­cur­sor chem­i­cals for explo­sives, bulk cash and weapons along Cen­tral Amer­i­can ship­ping routes.

Air Force Gen. Dou­glas M. Fras­er, South­com com­man­der, high­light­ed the extent of illic­it traf­fick­ing in the region and its harm­ful impact on people’s lives with­in the wide­ly used tran­sit zone.

“More than 80 per­cent of the cocaine des­tined for U.S. mar­kets is trans­port­ed via sea lanes, pri­mar­i­ly using lit­toral routes through Cen­tral Amer­i­ca,” he said. “Work­ing with our part­ner nations, we intend to dis­rupt their oper­a­tions by lim­it­ing their abil­i­ty to use Cen­tral Amer­i­ca as a tran­sit zone.

“Illic­it traf­fick­ing jeop­ar­dizes the safe­ty and well-being of cit­i­zens of every coun­try and has a neg­a­tive influ­ence on region­al and nation­al secu­ri­ty,” Fras­er added.

Oper­a­tion Mar­tillo is a crit­i­cal com­po­nent of the U.S. government’s coor­di­nat­ed inter­a­gency region­al secu­ri­ty strat­e­gy in sup­port of the White House strat­e­gy to com­bat transna­tion­al orga­nized crime and the U.S. Cen­tral Amer­i­ca region­al secu­ri­ty ini­tia­tive.

In 2011, inter­na­tion­al and coop­er­a­tive inter­a­gency efforts coor­di­nat­ed through Joint Inter­a­gency Task Force South result­ed in the dis­rup­tion of 119 met­ric tons of cocaine, with a whole­sale val­ue of $2.35 bil­lion, before it could reach des­ti­na­tions in the Unit­ed States. The task force’s efforts also enabled the inter­dic­tion of $21 mil­lion in bulk cash des­tined for traf­fick­ers in Cen­tral and South Amer­i­ca and $16 mil­lion worth of black mar­ket goods.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)