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Operation Martillo

Operation Martillo -- Spanish for hammer --, led by Joint Interagency Task Force South in support of U.S. Southern Command, coordinates partner nation efforts to stop illicit trafficking routes in the coastal waters along the Central American isthmus.

Since its launch on Jan. 15, 2012, Martillo has supported the seizure of 693 metric tons of cocaine and $25 million in bulk cash, detained 1,863 suspects and 581 vessels and aircraft by March 30, 2016. The successful whole-of-region approach to halt the flow of cocaine, heroin and other drugs into the region promotes stability, security and well-being of citizens of every country, said Coast Guard Rear Adm. Christopher J. Tomney, the director of JIATF South. Western Hemisphere and European partner nation efforts aim to shift maritime illicit trafficking away from the Central American littorals while also maximizing interdiction efforts in a resource-constrained environment.

In support of the operation, U.S., partner nation and allied forces ships and aircraft provide persistent presence in select maritime zones. While the operation has led to an increase in seizures and disruptions, the most positive outcome from the very beginning has been the increase in participation of partner nation forces in the overall goal of countering transnational organized crime, Tomney said.

JIATF Souths partnerships, along with Southcoms focus on building partner capacity in the Northern Tier, has led Operation Martillo to increase the task forces unity of effort, information sharing and interoperability among partner nations. Since the inauguration of Martillo, the task force has increased its awareness of illicit trafficking patterns, partner nations have supported 50 percent of all interdictions and disruptions operations and tactical communications have improved, to include coordination and interaction efforts, Tomney said. This is a partnership effort, and we cant do it alone, he added. The contributions of our partner nations and allies are critical to our mutual goal of countering illicit trafficking.

The U.S. contribution to the multinational detection, monitoring and interdiction operation includes U.S. Navy and Coast Guard vessels, aircraft from U.S. federal law enforcement agencies, and military and law enforcement units from various nations working together to deny transnational criminal organizations the ability to exploit these transshipment routes for the movement of narcotics, precursor chemicals, bulk cash, and weapons along Central American shipping routes. Operation Martillo is a critical component of the U.S. governments coordinated interagency regional security strategy in support of the White House Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime and the U.S. Central America Regional Security Initiative. Fourteen countries were participating as of 2019: Belize, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, France, Guatemala, Honduras, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Panama, Spain, United Kingdom and the United States. Chile has also contributed to the operation.

While the Department of Defense is not the lead agency responsible for countering threat networks, its unique capabilities can be leveraged to support other U.S. government and partner nation efforts. SOUTHCOM is aligned with and supports lead agencies, such as the Departments of Justice and State, as well as partner nations in the threat network fight. Learn more about DoD/SOUTHCOM efforts.

The DoD is the lead federal agency in efforts to detect and monitor aerial and maritime transit of illegal drugs towards the United States. Based on information gathered by JIATF South-coordinated operations, U.S. law enforcement agencies and partner nations take the lead in interdicting drug runners. U.S. military interdiction involvement, if any, is in support of those law enforcement agencies. Typically, U.S. military personnel are involved in supporting an interdiction during maritime operations in international waters, where U.S. Navy ships and helicopters patrol and intercept suspected traffickers. The actual interdictions boarding, search, seizures and arrests are led and conducted by embarked U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachments or partner nation drug law enforcement agencies.

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Page last modified: 30-07-2019 18:44:17 ZULU