unmanned aerial vehicles — to help stem the drug
trade along the southern border. The service has no
choice but to make sure those partnerships remain
strong for the future, he said.
“With decreasing budgets, we are going to have to
work together,” Burg said. “We are going to have to
optimize, so I am not patrolling the same parts of the
ocean other people are.”
Regarding border security, Rear Adm. William D. Lee,
the Coast Guard’s deputy for Operations Policy &
Capabilities, told lawmakers during a February hearing of
the House Homeland Security border and maritime secu-
rity subcommittee that the Department of Homeland
Security (DHS) continues to focus on keeping U.S. and
Mexican communities safe from threats of border-related
violence and crime, and to weaken the transnational
criminal organizations that threaten them.
“The Coast Guard coordinates and conducts joint
operations with other DHS components and inter-
agency partners as part of a whole-
of-government response to border
threats,” he said.
But if land routes along the
southern border are too risky,
smugglers will take to the sea to
get their product into the United
States, and vice versa, service officials said. And the Coast Guard
can’t be everywhere at once.
“We have kind of learned to do
the best with what we have,” Burg
that operate with most of its structure underwater, have become a
popular way for smugglers to get a
large amount of drugs into the
country. However, Burg said they are
not used along the southern border
because they are too expensive —
some costing upward of $1 million
— for drug smugglers to purchase
and train people how to operate.
Jessica Zuckerman, a policy
analyst with the Washington-based
Heritage Foundation, focuses on
homeland security, with a concentration on Latin America. She said
the use of maritime routes to
smuggle drugs is increasing as the
military is being stretched thin by
The U.S. Coast Guard has the
statutory authority and responsibility to enforce all applicable federal laws on, under
and over the high seas and waters subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.
“A lot of people are focused on illegal immigration
and not trafficking right now, and next to no one is talking about the Coast Guard and what they need to help
stop this,” Zuckerman said.
A group of House Republicans toured the southern
border in August during a three-day trip designed to
give lawmakers a first-hand look at what it takes to
keep the border secure. Coast Guard officials, along
with other federal and state government agency representatives, met with lawmakers during their visit.
Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-Kansas, said in a statement that
it helped him understand the complexities the nation’s
border patrol faces.
“Drug cartels and the transfer of drugs, guns and illegal money across the border represent some of the most
dangerous and destructive activity,” Yoder said. n
Following an at-sea interdiction by U.S. Coast Guard and Customs and Border
Protection crews, 122 bales of marijuana sit on the deck of Coast Guard
Cutter Edisto before being turned over to the Maritime Task Force, Aug. 21.
The crews interdicted the drugs approximately 47 miles southwest of San
Clemente Island, Calif., on Aug. 20.