RDML Peter J. Brown, assistant commandant for
Response Policy, said that among the reasons for
changing the strategy now was the increase in violence
and flow of illegal migrants.
“We need to be able to do better with what we’ve got
in terms of Coast Guard assets and Coast Guard
authorities in our own backyard in the Western
Hemisphere, and that requires a new approach and not
doing things the same old way,” Brown said.
In addition to those challenges, economic hardships, political rivalries and the potential effects of climate change threaten stability in Western Hemisphere
countries, said VADM Dean Lee, Coast Guard Atlantic
“TOC networks engage in illicit activities that span
drug trafficking, terrorism, human smuggling, trafficking in persons and weapons, piracy, cybercrime and
environmental crime,” Lee said.
Record-high homicide rates in South and Central
America, as well as the Caribbean — accounting for
eight of the 10 highest rates in the world, according to
a U.N. study released in 2014 — are disturbing indicators of the destabilizing effects of TOC networks.
CDR Damon Edwards, a member of Lee’s staff, said
a recent primary concern with transnational criminal
organizations is that they are becoming more diversified in their illicit activities.
“The traditional big-name [organizations] that are
known for drug and human smuggling, they are also
getting involved with major theft of oil and fuel in
partner countries, which continue contributing to the
instability of countries. … That brings an added challenge for us,” Edwards said.
Lee said everything in the Western Hemisphere is a
challenge, but cocaine is the primary product smugglers are trying to move.
33 WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG SEAPOWER / JULY/AUGUST 2015
Boarding team members from the U.S. Coast Guard National Security Cutter Bertholf work to retrieve bales of contraband from the water that were thrown overboard by suspected smugglers in January. The suspected smugglers were
intercepted by Bertholf during a routine patrol in the Eastern Pacific during the cutter’s deployment off the coast of
Central America in support of Joint Interagency Task Force South counternarcotics operations. During the deployment,
Bertholf’s crew detected and boarded a number of suspicious vessels, locating and seizing more than 2,600 pounds of
illegal narcotics and detaining a number of individuals suspected of smuggling.