Eyes of the Fleet

Eyes of the Fleet

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Drug War: U.S. Marines involved in international counter-drug operation

Staff Sgt. Travis A Jakovcic, a UH-1N Huey crewmember with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 467 looks back at another crew and aircraft during takeoff. Four UH-1N Huey helicopter crews and aircraft from HMLA-467 are part of Detachment Martillo of U.S. Marine Corps Forces, South and are participating in Operation Martillo. The detachment conducted a Mission Rehearsal Exercise prior to operations beginning in Guatemala. Detachment Martillo, under operational control of U.S. Marine Corps Forces, South, is comprised of a number of units from II Marine Expeditionary Force. Operation Martillo is an operation led by Joint-Interagency Task Force-South, of the U.S. Southern Command, and is designed to help stem the flow of narcotics through Central America and its Pacific and Caribbean coasts by denying transnational criminal organizations littorals used for illicit trafficking. (Official U.S. Marine Corps photo//Released)

HuffPo reports as "Guatemala Drug War: 200 U.S. Marines Join Anti-Drug Effort":
The Marines are deployed as part of Operation Martillo, a broader effort started last Jan. 15 to stop drug trafficking along the Central American coast. Focused exclusively on drug dealers in airplanes or boats, the U.S.-led operation involves troops or law enforcement agents from Belize, Britain, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, France, Guatemala, Honduras, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Panama and Spain.
More at Danger Room:
The Marines’ share of the operation involves chasing drug traffickers with UH-1N Huey helicopters. The Marine contingent has four of the choppers, and the Marines are carrying weapons. “It’s not every day that you have 200-some Marines going to a country in Central and South America aside from conducting training exercises,” Staff Sgt. Earnest Barnes, the public affairs chief for Marine Corps Forces South, tells Danger Room. Prior to the Marines’ deployment, there were only a “handful” of Marines in the country, Barnes says.

However, the Marines can’t technically use their guns except in self-defense, and Barnes wouldn’t say whether they’re authorized to pursue drug traffickers on the ground. The description of what they’re doing, however, suggests that they probably can’t. Instead, they’ll be looking out for suspicious boats — including crude narco-submarines — and then radio the Guatemalans, who do the work seizing their drugs and arresting cartel members. That could be on rivers, or along Guatemala’s two coastlines, reports the Marine Corps Times.


  1. Anonymous8:57 PM

    They should team up with the US Coast Guard who has the authority to shoot & make arrests.

  2. ROE is the absolute key here. Sure hope we are not going to lose some Marines to these thugs because we're practicing "Lawfare".