‘Tsunami of cocaine’ entering U.S. due to production surge, lack of ‘operational capabilities’ to interdict

by WorldTribune Staff, November 22, 2017

Cocaine is flooding into the U.S. via container ships, fishing boats, special drug-running fast boats, aircraft, and submarines, the director of a counter drug unit based in Key West, Florida said.

U.S. Coast Guard personnel board a narco sub as part of a drug seizure in September 2016. / U.S. Coast Guard photo

The United States lacks the “operational capabilities” to stop the massive amounts of cocaine that are being smuggled in from South America, said Coast Guard Rear Adm. Christopher Tomney, director of Southcom’s Joint Interagency Task Force-South.

Since 2016, about 560 tons of cocaine were seized in the eastern Pacific and Caribbean and “That was just a drop in the bucket of what we were able to detect,” Tomney said, according to a Nov. 21 report by the Washington Free Beacon.

The flow of cocaine into the U.S., a “tsunami”, has jumped sharply in recent years mainly due to production increases in Colombia and Ecuador, the report said. And the U.S. is stopping only a small fraction of it.

“Our shortage is not for a lack of information, or a lack of awareness of what’s going on,” Tomney said. “Our shortage is a lack of operational capabilities to respond to that.”

Traffickers have even been brazen about bringing the drug in, Tomney said. Monitoring aircraft have seen cocaine bales packed openly on fast boats.

“If I were to describe their strategy, they’re flooding the end zone,” Tomney said. “They put so much out, and know that we only have so many assets that we’re not going to be able to interdict it all.”

Tomney’s task force will continue its interdiction work, but he said more needs to be done to reduce drug user demand. “We’re basically a consumer nation so until we can solve how much we consume, there’s always going to be a market to traffic in this kind of commodity,” he said.

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