Operation MARTILLO: Sophisticated Airborne Platform Joins Drug-Smuggling Interdiction Effort

By Dialogo
January 07, 2015



The United States recently assigned a sophisticated surveillance aircraft to support Operation MARTILLO, a move which signals the country’s strong commitment to cooperating with its partner nations in the fight against drug trafficking in the Central American isthmus.

The systems aboard the U.S.-based plane are able to monitor a high volume of maritime activity over a large area while differentiating between legal and illegal operations. The intelligence gathered by this platform will allow the U.S. and its partners to make significant strides in the detection and seizure of illegal drug shipments along the coastal waters of the Central American isthmus.

Operation MARTILLO is joint effort to target drug trafficking along the Caribbean coastlines of Guatemala and Honduras, as well as drug trafficking routes in Pacific Ocean waters. The initiative, which was launched Jan. 15, 2012, includes all seven Central American nations and U.S. Southern Command (U.S. SOUTHCOM). Colombia, Mexico, Canada, as well as The Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and France are also active participants in the effort.

Colombian Army’s Sixth Division made strides against narco-trafficking in 2014


The Colombian National Army’s Sixth Division confiscated more than two tons of narcotics, destroyed 612 hectares of illegal coca plants and took down 65 drug-producing laboratories in 2014, dealing a major blow against the narco-trafficking enterprises of the terrorist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia’s (FARC) Southern Bloc.

The Sixth Division, along with the Navy, Air Force and counter-narcotics police, also provided safety to farmers who had been forced by the FARC – the country's largest terrorist group and one of its largest narco-trafficking organizations – to grow coca, the main ingredient used to produce cocaine, according to the Army.

The division also reported it arrested 55 drug-trafficking suspects in 2014.

Record methamphetamine seizures at U.S.-Mexico border


A record 6,682 kilograms of methamphetamine were seized at the U.S.-Mexico border during the fiscal year 2014 that ended September 30, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

The amount suggests that Mexican transnational criminal organizations are producing and trafficking greater amounts of the drug. The CBP reported a 300 percent increase in methamphetamine seizures at California ports of entry from fiscal year 2009 to 2014.

“The Mexican cartels are flooding the U.S. marketplace with their cheap methamphetamine,” said Gary Hill, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) assistant special agent in charge in San Diego.

Methamphetamine can be easily transported, as it can be liquefied, hidden in small compartments or taped to the body. It also offers narco-traffickers a high profit margin, because since cartels are producing methamphetamine themselves, their overhead costs are lower.

Interpol’s Operation Lionfish II seizes 27.5 tons of drugs


Interpol agents seized 27.5 tons of narcotics worth $1.3 billion during Operation Lionfish II, a two-week initiative in December that included raids in 39 countries and territories in Central America and the Caribbean.

They also arrested 422 suspects, seized a semi-submersible vessel and two light aircraft used by narco-traffickers, destroyed 20 clandestine landing strips, dismantled 50 drug laboratories, and confiscated about 100 weapons, 7.6 tons of chemical precursors used to make synthetic drugs and $2.2 million in cash.

The goal of the operation, which was conducted from December 1 to 15, was to take down the region’s most notorious organized crime and narco-trafficking groups. Interpol authorities did not disclose the names of the suspects.

“These officers operate often in dangerous circumstances to confront the insidious impact of organized crime groups in Latin America, exploiting Central America's corridor and sea routes to conduct their illicit activities,” Glyn Lewis, Interpol’s director for specialized crime and analysis, told reporters.


The United States recently assigned a sophisticated surveillance aircraft to support Operation MARTILLO, a move which signals the country’s strong commitment to cooperating with its partner nations in the fight against drug trafficking in the Central American isthmus.

The systems aboard the U.S.-based plane are able to monitor a high volume of maritime activity over a large area while differentiating between legal and illegal operations. The intelligence gathered by this platform will allow the U.S. and its partners to make significant strides in the detection and seizure of illegal drug shipments along the coastal waters of the Central American isthmus.

Operation MARTILLO is joint effort to target drug trafficking along the Caribbean coastlines of Guatemala and Honduras, as well as drug trafficking routes in Pacific Ocean waters. The initiative, which was launched Jan. 15, 2012, includes all seven Central American nations and U.S. Southern Command (U.S. SOUTHCOM). Colombia, Mexico, Canada, as well as The Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and France are also active participants in the effort.

Colombian Army’s Sixth Division made strides against narco-trafficking in 2014


The Colombian National Army’s Sixth Division confiscated more than two tons of narcotics, destroyed 612 hectares of illegal coca plants and took down 65 drug-producing laboratories in 2014, dealing a major blow against the narco-trafficking enterprises of the terrorist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia’s (FARC) Southern Bloc.

The Sixth Division, along with the Navy, Air Force and counter-narcotics police, also provided safety to farmers who had been forced by the FARC – the country's largest terrorist group and one of its largest narco-trafficking organizations – to grow coca, the main ingredient used to produce cocaine, according to the Army.

The division also reported it arrested 55 drug-trafficking suspects in 2014.

Record methamphetamine seizures at U.S.-Mexico border


A record 6,682 kilograms of methamphetamine were seized at the U.S.-Mexico border during the fiscal year 2014 that ended September 30, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

The amount suggests that Mexican transnational criminal organizations are producing and trafficking greater amounts of the drug. The CBP reported a 300 percent increase in methamphetamine seizures at California ports of entry from fiscal year 2009 to 2014.

“The Mexican cartels are flooding the U.S. marketplace with their cheap methamphetamine,” said Gary Hill, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) assistant special agent in charge in San Diego.

Methamphetamine can be easily transported, as it can be liquefied, hidden in small compartments or taped to the body. It also offers narco-traffickers a high profit margin, because since cartels are producing methamphetamine themselves, their overhead costs are lower.

Interpol’s Operation Lionfish II seizes 27.5 tons of drugs


Interpol agents seized 27.5 tons of narcotics worth $1.3 billion during Operation Lionfish II, a two-week initiative in December that included raids in 39 countries and territories in Central America and the Caribbean.

They also arrested 422 suspects, seized a semi-submersible vessel and two light aircraft used by narco-traffickers, destroyed 20 clandestine landing strips, dismantled 50 drug laboratories, and confiscated about 100 weapons, 7.6 tons of chemical precursors used to make synthetic drugs and $2.2 million in cash.

The goal of the operation, which was conducted from December 1 to 15, was to take down the region’s most notorious organized crime and narco-trafficking groups. Interpol authorities did not disclose the names of the suspects.

“These officers operate often in dangerous circumstances to confront the insidious impact of organized crime groups in Latin America, exploiting Central America's corridor and sea routes to conduct their illicit activities,” Glyn Lewis, Interpol’s director for specialized crime and analysis, told reporters.
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