On November 25, 2020, the Colombian Navy presented the results of the sixth phase of the Orion International Naval Campaign to Combat Drug Trafficking, a multinational effort consisting of combined and multidimensional operations (maritime, riverine, air, and land) in the Caribbean Sea, the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, as well as Colombian border rivers. From September 15 to October 30, 29 countries and 51 international institutions took part in Orion VI, which seized more than 90 tons of cocaine hydrochloride, the Colombian Navy said in a statement.
“In the VI edition of the Orion campaign, [authorities] seized 90.7 tons of cocaine, of which, with the participation of Colombian institutions, 56.4 tons were seized in the country,” Colombian Minister of Defense Carlos Holmes Trujillo told the press. “[Authorities] seized 18.6 tons of marijuana [and] reported a total of 413 captures of [individuals of] different nationalities.”
During the 45 days of Orion VI’s execution, multinational teams also disrupted cocaine hydrochloride production by seizing 110.6 tons of solid chemical precursors and more than 141,500 liters of liquid chemical precursors and destroying 168 narco labs, the Colombian Navy said. “[Authorities] seized 76 vessels and five semisubmersibles, and intercepted seven aircraft on the ground,” Minister Holmes Trujillo added.
Other important results of the campaign include the seizure of 33.2 tons of hashish, 3.5 kilograms of heroin, and 28 kg of amphetamines.
“Intelligence integration, together with the coordination of operational effort, and all this framed in trust, were key success factors for achieving the results obtained,” Vice Admiral Gabriel Alfonso Pérez Garcés, Colombian Navy commander, told the press.
Orion VI was carried out as part of international cooperation agreements between the participating countries, consisting this time of: Argentina, Belize, Brazil, Cayman Islands, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, France, Germany, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Italy, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, the Netherlands, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, Spain, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, the United States, and Uruguay.
The campaign had the support of 61 maritime vessels, 18 river vessels, 48 coast guard interceptor boats, 26 riverine combat boats, 13 maritime patrol aircraft, eight helicopters, and three unmanned aerial vehicles.
“Operation Orion is an excellent example of regional cooperation in countering the threats of transnational criminal organizations; every iteration of this operation continues to improve, bringing in more partner nations and incorporating our law enforcement colleagues,” U.S. Navy Admiral Craig Faller, commander of U.S. Southern Command, told the press. “Partnerships and alliances are the best way to disrupt and deter transnational criminal organizations in conducting these illicit activities. We look forward to continuing this important collaboration.”
SOUTHCOM Statement on the Passing of Colombian Minister of Defense Carlos Holmes Trujillo Garcia
“We are deeply saddened to learn of the loss of Colombian Minister of Defense Carlos Holmes Trujillo Garcia. On behalf of the men and women of U.S. Southern Command, I would like to express our heartfelt condolences and deepest sympathies to his family. We join with the people of Colombia in mourning his tragic passing and honoring his many years of devoted service to his nation. Minister Trujillo was a dear friend and a highly respected leader. We will always be grateful for his many significant contributions to our firm and unwavering partnership with Colombia’s Military Forces. Our nation, our armed forces, and our command will always remember him fondly, and his friends at U.S. Southern Command will miss him dearly.”
– U.S. Navy Admiral Craig S. Faller, Commander, U.S. Southern Command