According to Navy Times, officials at the Navy League’s annual Sea-Air-Space exposition outside Washington, D.C. said that putting more ships in the transit zone between the U.S. and South American would help curb the flow of cocaine coming into the United States.
“We need about 16 ships, and in the words of [U.S. Southern Command chief Marine] Gen. [John] Kelly, they don’t need to be destroyers, they don’t need to be fancy,” said Air Force Brig Gen. Steve DePalmer, deputy director at Joint Interagency Task Force South. “They just need to be something that floats, that can trundle along, maybe launch a helicopter — and also launch a Coast Guard law enforcement detachment.”
As Navy Times reports, 40 metric tons of cocaine were seized by JIATF South and the Coast Guard in 2013. Land-based LEOs also seized another 65 metric tons.
“Why should we care? How does it affect the average citizen that’s sitting in his armchair in Nebraska watching the evening news?” Rear Adm. Dean Lee said. “Well, it’s this: Transnational organized crime fuels instability downrange, instability is a threat to our national security. It’s a threat to our economy.”
According to the Times, criminals aren’t just transporting cocaine. “They will trade or traffic anything for a dollar,” Lee said. “If it’s not drugs, then it’s humans. If it’s not humans, then it’s weapons. If it’s not weapons, then it’s money. And you can go on and on and on.”