Operation Martillo making strides in counter-narcotics fight

By Dialogo
July 29, 2013

MIAMI, U.S.A. – The United States’ teaming with Western Hemisphere and European countries has led to the seizure of more than 245,000 kilograms of narcotics as the result of Operation Martillo, an international mission that gathers partner nations to curtail illicit trafficking routes on both coasts of the Central American isthmus.
“[U.S. Southern Command’s] commitment to working with partners, both in the region and throughout the U.S. government – from the military to the rest of our government – is helping build an integrated network of defense in the Western Hemisphere, based on shared responsibility and shared values,” United States Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter said in a prepared statement. “Through initiatives such as Operation Martillo, U.S. Southern Command and its partners are dismantling transnational criminal networks and disrupting illicit drug trafficking.”
Operation Martillo, which is led by the U.S. Joint Interagency Task Force South and includes Canada, Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, France, Guatemala, Honduras, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Panama, Spain, and the United Kingdom, strives to disrupt transnational criminal organizations by limiting their ability to use Central America as a transit zone.
From Jan. 15, 2012 to July 17, 2013, Operation Martillo, which was launched in January 2012, resulted in the seizure of 207,740 kilograms of cocaine and 37,397 kilograms of marijuana, 472 arrests and the confiscation of 152 assets.
The Joint Interagency Task Force South and U.S. Southern Command will continue to work closely with partner nations through Operation Martillo, as 69% of the disruptions made during the past fiscal year were supported by a member nation. During the 2011 fiscal year, 59% of disruptions included a partner nation.
The operation directly supports the curtailing of trafficking and the dismantlement of transnational criminal networks in Central America, which are key objectives of the Central America Regional Security Initiative (CARSI).
“Operation Martillo demonstrates a clear commitment of the Western Hemisphere and European nations to work as partners to counter the spread of transnational criminal organizations, and to protect citizens in Central America from the violence, harm and exploitation created by these criminal networks,” the Joint Interagency Task Force South and U.S. Southern Command said in a prepared statement.
Operation Martillo is integral to the counter-narcotics fight, as about 80% of cocaine shipments are moved via maritime routes. Nearly 90% of the cocaine that reaches the United States comes through Mexico and Central America, according to the United Nations International Narcotics Control Board.
“Operation Martillo has been a huge success and demonstrates our clear commitment to work together with our partner nations and interagency community to combat the influence of organized crime and disrupt the flow of illicit drugs into the U.S.,” Rear Adm. Sinclair Harris, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command, U.S. 4th Fleet, said in a prepared statement. “By teaming up with our partner nations and allied forces to scrutinize the littorals, our goal is to deny them the ability to transit so that the sea lines are not free for illicit traffic.”
Partner nations are committed to Operation Martillo.
“Canada has steadfast, growing relationships with the people and nations of the Caribbean and Central America,” Canadian Minister of State of Foreign Affairs Diane Ablonczy said in a prepared statement. “We are committed to building on those ties by sharing expertise and pooling our resources to tackle common threats such as international drug smuggling. By working together, we are achieving greater security and prosperity for our hemisphere.”