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International Cooperation Key to Drug Seizures in Colombia

International Cooperation Key to Drug Seizures in Colombia

By Yolima Dussán/Diálogo
October 30, 2020

The Caribbean Naval Force increased cocaine hydrochloride seizures in Caribbean waters by 52 percent from January to August 2020, according to a Colombian Navy August 22 report.

As of August 2020, authorities have seized 84,662 kilograms of cocaine hydrochloride, while the amount seized in the same period in 2019 was 44,000 kg, the report says. With these results, Colombian authorities estimate that they have prevented more than 211 million doses from reaching international markets.

“These indications are the result of interoperational […] and combined work with different countries, such as the United States, Panama, Costa Rica, Honduras, Guatemala, Belize, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Italy, and the United Kingdom, mainly,” Colombian Navy Vice Admiral Andrés Vásquez Villegas, commander of the Caribbean Naval Force, told Diálogo.

In addition, authorities captured 242 people and seized vehicles, aircraft, vessels, and a semisubmersible, all drug-related, the report adds.

“We have the best relationships with SOUTHCOM [U.S. Southern Command] and with JIATF South [Joint Interagency Task Force South], with whom we communicate and coordinate daily. We have a Colombian Navy liaison officer at JIATF South […],” added Vice Adm. Vásquez, who mentioned the importance of the U.S. maritime shield deployed in the Caribbean: “It has enabled navy ships from other countries, such as Colombia, the Netherlands, France, [and] the United Kingdom, to cover other mobility corridors, in a combined effort to smother narcotrafficking routes.”

According to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the territorial sea, which covers up to 12 miles out, is the sovereign responsibility of each State, which must have the minimum capabilities to safeguard life at sea and prevent its illegal use. But  different navies are free to navigate in the exclusive economic zone, which covers 200 miles, and is in international waters.

“It’s here that we require countries with blue-water capabilities, with vessels that can go from mile 12 [territorial sea] to mile 200 and beyond, to have a presence, safeguarding marine life, protecting lines of maritime communications, and preventing criminals from using the sea,” Vice Adm. Vásquez concluded.