U.S. President Donald Trump visited the headquarters of U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) in Doral, Florida, on July 10. “We’re going to be fighting for Venezuela. We’re going to be fighting for our friends from Cuba. They know that we’ve been doing that, and in so many other places. But Cuba and Venezuela, we have it very well under control,” said Trump from SOUTHCOM, which launched a counternarcotics operation in the Caribbean Sea in April.
On April 1, U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper unveiled the operation at the White House and said that one of its main objectives was to cut the sources of funding of the Nicolás Maduro “illegitimate regime” that he said relies on drug profits to maintain its “oppressive hold on power.”
“SOUTHCOM’s surge operation, conducted with key regional partners, has resulted in more than 1,000 arrests and the interdiction of 120 metric tons [of drugs]. I can only tell you that’s a lot of narcotics, worth billions and billions of dollars,” the president said.
Secretary Esper, who also attended the event on July 10, said that the operation resulted in the seizure of an estimated 122 metric tons of cocaine and more than 8,000 kilograms of marijuana, which would have yielded “benefits” of about $2 billion for the cartels.
The president said the operation was “an incredible successful effort” and affirmed that he is working to protect the country’s waters and borders.
U.S. Navy Admiral Craig S. Faller, SOUTHCOM commander, said that this mission was “vital” to the country’s security, and praised the role of his troops in the Western Hemisphere.