Guatemala and El Salvador will join Operation Martillo (Hammer), coordinated by the United States to combat drug trafficking along the Central American coasts, both countries’ defense ministers announced in San Salvador on February 24.
“We’re working on that framework (Martillo). We have some requests from the United States, chiefly in the aspect of collaboration with aircraft crews,” the Guatemalan Defense Minister, General Ulises Noé Anzueto, declared to the press.
“We’re collaborating because it’s an initiative for the welfare of the region, and we’re also planning to get involved in any effort, whatever it might be, that might bring peace and tranquility to our populations,” Anzueto stated, without specifying when the operation will begin.
For his part, the Salvadoran minister, General José Atilio Benítez, revealed that he will meet with the United States Military Group to discuss the topic.
“We’re going to provide support where we can provide support. We’re already doing it in some ways; we have a command, the Cuscatlán Command, that is precisely there to provide support, to intercept both at sea and in the air, or even on land,” emphasized Benítez, for whom Operation Martillo “is something similar” to what is already being done in the region.
“What they (the United States) are doing is coordinating all the countries along the coast so that they’re working in unison, so we’re also available to provide support,” he stressed.
Anzueto and Benítez participated in a meeting in El Salvador, together with Honduras, in order to address the topic of the fight against organized and common crime in the three countries.
General Douglas Fraser, the commander of the U.S. Southern Command, announced this month in Miami that his country will participate in the international operation to combat drug-trafficking routes along the coasts of the Isthmus, where more than 80 percent of the cocaine destined for the U.S. market is transported, he said.
The U.S. force dependent on the Southern Command is made up of a total of ten Navy and Coast Guard vessels, the former responsible for detection and supply of information and the latter for interdiction, federal-agency planes, and Military and security units.
The Southern Command informed AFP that 13 countries are participating in the operation: Canada, Belize, Colombia, El Salvador, France, Guatemala, Honduras, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Panama, Spain, and the United Kingdom, in addition to the United States.