Guatemala Receives 4 Ships to Intercept Narcotrafficking
By Julieta Pelcastre/Diálogo April 30, 2021
The U.S. government, through the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency’s (CBP) Air and Maritime Operations and the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement, donated four Midnight Express Interceptor vessels to the Guatemalan Naval Special Force Command, the CBP reported on April 9, 2021.
The 39-foot long vessels that can reach 60 knots (111 kilometers per hour) were transferred to the Guatemalan Navy in Puerto San José, Escuintla municipality, on April 8, 2021, strengthening their naval capabilities to intercept narcotrafficking, the CBP added.
“Rest assured that they will be used […] to interdict narcotics successfully in national maritime spaces,” Lieutenant General Juan Carlos Alemán Soto, Guatemalan minister of Defense, said when thanking the United States at the handover ceremony. “In doing so, we will continue to cooperate with you, with your agents, to defeat this scourge that [threatens] our nations.”
During the ceremony, U.S. Ambassador to Guatemala William W. Popp said, “We support Guatemala’s resolution not to give up even a meter of maritime borders for narcotrafficking activities, and they can count on U.S. support […] to achieve it. These vessels are the beginning of a new chapter in the shared fight against narcotrafficking.”
We support Guatemala’s resolution not to give up even a meter of maritime borders for narcotrafficking activities, and they can count on U.S. support […] to achieve it. These vessels are the beginning of a new chapter in the shared fight against narcotrafficking,” U.S. Ambassador to Guatemala William W. Popp.
The U.S. Department of State’s International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, published in March 2021, indicates that Guatemalan maritime interdiction efforts have pushed narcotrafficking organizations out of the sea, leading to an increase in air narcotrafficking. However, the Naval Special Force continues to be an efficient deterrent against narcotrafficking in maritime transport, the report says.
From January 1 to April 7, 2021, Guatemalan law enforcement agencies have affected narcotrafficking structures by seizing 643 kilograms of cocaine, 97 vehicles, four aircraft, one vessel, and 136 firearms, and by destroying two clandestine labs for cocaine processing. They also eradicated more than 1.5 million marijuana plants, 711,000 coca plants, and 176,000 poppy plants, the Guatemalan Ministry of the Interior told the press on April 8.