Thursday, August 30, 2012
Marine Staff Sgt. Earnest Barnes of the U.S. Southern Command told the Associated Press.
"This is the first Marine deployment that directly supports countering transnational crime in this area, and it's certainly the largest footprint we've had in that area in quite some time."
While being spearheaded by the United States, Operation Martillo involves military troops and law enforcement agencies from European countries like Great Britain, Canada, France, Spain, and the Netherlands. Central American countries Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Belize are also involved.
U.S. Coast Guard Rear Adm. Charles Michel recently testified before Congress that law enforcement is currently only able to detain about 25 percent of suspected drug traffickers. The traffickers use boats that carry up to four tons of cocaine, and travel along the western Caribbean coastline of Central America:
"We fight a highly mobile, disciplined and well-funded adversary that threatens democratic governments, terrorizes populations, impedes economic development and creates regional instability."
According to the Associated Press, the Marines deployed to Guatemala were from North Carolina. They are expected to be in Guatemala for about two months.