Operation Martillo to Remain in Central America Indefinitely

Operation Martillo to Remain in Central America Indefinitely

By Dialogo
September 19, 2013

Operation Martillo, a multinational military force effort headed by the United States with the aim of countering drug trafficking and organized crime in Central America, will remain in the region for an indefinite period.

This was confirmed by the head of operations at the U.S. Southern Command’s Joint Interagency Task Force-South, Colonel Neal Pugliese, in a statement published by Honduran newspaper Proceso Digital.

Colonel Pugliese reflected on the fight to counter drug trafficking and the results of Operation Martillo headed by SOUTHCOM, and the participants of which include Honduras, Belize, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Panama. European nations, such as the United Kingdom, France, and the Netherlands also participate in this operation.

Operation Martillo is very effective in Honduras, especially in the eastern region, an area where cocaine trafficking is extensive. Throughout 2013, however, Panama has become a hub for drug stashes, surpassing Honduras, which held that place last year.

The U.S. colonel confirmed that because of its results, Operation Martillo, which started in mid-January 2012, would remain in force for an indefinite period.

SOUTHCOM’s official records show that so far during this operation, which has been in effect for over a year and a half, 222 metric tons of cocaine; 41,606 bales of marihuana; and $10.7 million dollars were seized.

There have been up to 21 registered maritime trafficking operations in the same number of vessels of different drafts. These boats are used for fuel, decoy and logistics, and many of these pretend to be fishing vessels.

“Drug traffickers have been very agile; combat is like a chess game: its intelligence‘against intelligence, operation against operation,” an unidentified member of the interagency unit told Proceso Digital.

Last year, just in the northern Caribbean, 478 maritime suspicious activities with stopovers in Central America were detected.

Trafficking moves through regional countries, depending on the degree of difficulty to operate. Therefore, it wouldn’t be surprising to have the center of operations move back to Honduras.

Recently, the Dominican Republic became the ideal epicenter for drug trafficking operations, but this has changed due to counter measures taken by multinational operators, in addition to the effects of the Dominican Air Force’s Embraer Super Tucano fighters.

Self-propelled submersibles are tools used by drug cartels that utilize several techniques to achieve their goals and move quickly to modernize their strategies to transport the drugs to their final destination, mainly the United States, the main consumer market in the world.

Each submersible or semisubmersible has the capacity to transport between four to 10 metric tons of cocaine.

Last year, Operation Martillo deployed up to 200 Marines and MD-60 Black Hawk helicopters in certain operations in Guatemala alone, in order to reinforce security on the border with Mexico and counter the threat of Mexican cartels and Los Zetas criminal organization.