CENTSEC 2015: Taking Back the Northern Triangle

CENTSEC 2015: Taking Back the Northern Triangle

By Dialogo
March 26, 2015




A two-week operation conducted by INTERPOL at the end of 2014 resulted in more than 27.5 tons of drugs being seized. Operation Lionfish II targeted the illicit trafficking of drugs and firearms by organized crime groups across Central America and the Caribbean. The seized drugs included cocaine, cannabis, and heroin, and the cocaine haul alone was valued at almost $1.3 billion, according to data released by INTERPOL.

Illicit trafficking of drugs and persons is an increased problem for several countries around the globe. Criminals are using smarter and more effective ways to conduct their businesses and it is becoming more and more difficult to disrupt their illegal networks.

It’s likely that no other region in the world suffers more with this problem than Central America and its so-called Northern Triangle. The illicit drug trade feeds into and supports organized crime in all its forms, exacerbating extreme violence, instability, and the chronic weakening of state institutions.

It’s no wonder, then, that the United States Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), in collaboration with partners from the Government of Honduras, decided to focus on “Strengthening Regional Security Cooperation to Counter Transnational Organized Crime” as the theme for this year’s Central American Security Conference (CENTSEC 2015), the purpose of which is to identify and share knowledge and experiences obtained from countering illicit actors to reduce the levels of violence, stem the flow of illegal drugs, and contribute to greater regional stability.

The conference is taking place in Tegucigalpa, Honduras from 24-26 March, and gathered representatives of the armed and security forces from Belize, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, and the United States. The three-day event is co-sponsored by SOUTHCOM.

The presence of high-ranking personnel from all countries in attendance, including Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández Alvarado, was a testament to the importance of this year’s event. For his part, President Hernández addressed the audience to highlight the value of working together.

“It’s important that our Armed Forces continue to support our security forces because the combat to narcotrafficking must be an intrinsic one, even though we all know this is not the original role of the military.”

He also thanked SOUTHCOM for its support, and emphasized the success of the combined effort, called Escudo Marítimo
(Maritime Shield). “Homicides rates in the country are going down, and the Honduran economy is getting stronger and stronger.”

During his opening remarks, U.S. Marine Corps General John F. Kelly, commander of SOUTHCOM, made reference to the presence of so many high-level personnel and introduced Ms. Erin Logan, one of U.S. President Barack Obama’s top advisors on Central America, attending CENTSEC for the first time.

According to Gen. Kelly, Ms. Logan is there to discuss the U.S. plan to support the Alliance for Prosperity in the Northern Triangle, a joint initiative aimed at boosting economic growth, job opportunities, access to health and education, and improved security conditions in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

President Obama’s $1 billion request to the U.S. Congress is aimed at reinforcing the decision of Central America’s leaders to address the challenges that have long plagued this region, but especially, illicit drug trafficking.

However, as Gen. Kelly reminded everyone, “this isn’t a blank check—it’s very much a shared responsibility. Your political leaders are equally committed to doing their part to get after the root causes of insecurity, and your people appear willing to support these measures.”

The conversation on the Alliance for Prosperity could not have come at a more appropriate time in the conference, since U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta Jacobson requested Congress’s approval to grant almost $2 billion in aid for Latin America and the Caribbean, with half of that amount destined specifically to Central American countries.

“The request was for 1.99 billion, which represents a 34.7 percent increase when compared to 2014,” said Assistant Secretary Jacobson.

Preceding Gen. Kelly, Honduran Defense Minister Samuel Reyes Rendón addressed the forum to thank the U.S. government for all the help they provide and the partnership between the country’s Armed Forces and SOUTHCOM.

“Thanks to our militaries’ combined efforts, Honduras has become a hostile environment for narcotraffickers. There’s still a lot to be done, but we are moving forward and we have accomplished a lot in the past few months.”

Another strong point of discussion during CENTSEC 2015 is Operation MARTILLO, which is one of the United States's components in the whole-of-government approach to countering the use of the Central American littorals as transshipment routes for illicit drugs, weapons, and cash.

Operation MARTILLO is an international operation focused on sharing information and bringing together air, land, and maritime assets from the U.S. Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, and Western Hemisphere and European partner nation agencies to counter illicit trafficking.

“From Ciudad Juarez to Colon, we’re seeing real improvements in regional cooperation, and it’s translating into significant security gains, such as military and security forces doing an excellent job protecting human rights, even when conducting challenging domestic security missions. And we can expect populations to start recognizing these improvements as words and actions start aligning with the new reality of security gains,” concluded Gen. Kelly.



A two-week operation conducted by INTERPOL at the end of 2014 resulted in more than 27.5 tons of drugs being seized. Operation Lionfish II targeted the illicit trafficking of drugs and firearms by organized crime groups across Central America and the Caribbean. The seized drugs included cocaine, cannabis, and heroin, and the cocaine haul alone was valued at almost $1.3 billion, according to data released by INTERPOL.

Illicit trafficking of drugs and persons is an increased problem for several countries around the globe. Criminals are using smarter and more effective ways to conduct their businesses and it is becoming more and more difficult to disrupt their illegal networks.

It’s likely that no other region in the world suffers more with this problem than Central America and its so-called Northern Triangle. The illicit drug trade feeds into and supports organized crime in all its forms, exacerbating extreme violence, instability, and the chronic weakening of state institutions.

It’s no wonder, then, that the United States Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), in collaboration with partners from the Government of Honduras, decided to focus on “Strengthening Regional Security Cooperation to Counter Transnational Organized Crime” as the theme for this year’s Central American Security Conference (CENTSEC 2015), the purpose of which is to identify and share knowledge and experiences obtained from countering illicit actors to reduce the levels of violence, stem the flow of illegal drugs, and contribute to greater regional stability.

The conference is taking place in Tegucigalpa, Honduras from 24-26 March, and gathered representatives of the armed and security forces from Belize, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, and the United States. The three-day event is co-sponsored by SOUTHCOM.

The presence of high-ranking personnel from all countries in attendance, including Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández Alvarado, was a testament to the importance of this year’s event. For his part, President Hernández addressed the audience to highlight the value of working together.

“It’s important that our Armed Forces continue to support our security forces because the combat to narcotrafficking must be an intrinsic one, even though we all know this is not the original role of the military.”

He also thanked SOUTHCOM for its support, and emphasized the success of the combined effort, called Escudo Marítimo
(Maritime Shield). “Homicides rates in the country are going down, and the Honduran economy is getting stronger and stronger.”

During his opening remarks, U.S. Marine Corps General John F. Kelly, commander of SOUTHCOM, made reference to the presence of so many high-level personnel and introduced Ms. Erin Logan, one of U.S. President Barack Obama’s top advisors on Central America, attending CENTSEC for the first time.

According to Gen. Kelly, Ms. Logan is there to discuss the U.S. plan to support the Alliance for Prosperity in the Northern Triangle, a joint initiative aimed at boosting economic growth, job opportunities, access to health and education, and improved security conditions in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

President Obama’s $1 billion request to the U.S. Congress is aimed at reinforcing the decision of Central America’s leaders to address the challenges that have long plagued this region, but especially, illicit drug trafficking.

However, as Gen. Kelly reminded everyone, “this isn’t a blank check—it’s very much a shared responsibility. Your political leaders are equally committed to doing their part to get after the root causes of insecurity, and your people appear willing to support these measures.”

The conversation on the Alliance for Prosperity could not have come at a more appropriate time in the conference, since U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta Jacobson requested Congress’s approval to grant almost $2 billion in aid for Latin America and the Caribbean, with half of that amount destined specifically to Central American countries.

“The request was for 1.99 billion, which represents a 34.7 percent increase when compared to 2014,” said Assistant Secretary Jacobson.

Preceding Gen. Kelly, Honduran Defense Minister Samuel Reyes Rendón addressed the forum to thank the U.S. government for all the help they provide and the partnership between the country’s Armed Forces and SOUTHCOM.

“Thanks to our militaries’ combined efforts, Honduras has become a hostile environment for narcotraffickers. There’s still a lot to be done, but we are moving forward and we have accomplished a lot in the past few months.”

Another strong point of discussion during CENTSEC 2015 is Operation MARTILLO, which is one of the United States's components in the whole-of-government approach to countering the use of the Central American littorals as transshipment routes for illicit drugs, weapons, and cash.

Operation MARTILLO is an international operation focused on sharing information and bringing together air, land, and maritime assets from the U.S. Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, and Western Hemisphere and European partner nation agencies to counter illicit trafficking.

“From Ciudad Juarez to Colon, we’re seeing real improvements in regional cooperation, and it’s translating into significant security gains, such as military and security forces doing an excellent job protecting human rights, even when conducting challenging domestic security missions. And we can expect populations to start recognizing these improvements as words and actions start aligning with the new reality of security gains,” concluded Gen. Kelly.
In August there will be 4 days of night It's good to stand before a dialogue. But emptiness complies
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