JiatfSouthIssue.docx - Sequester Means $1 Billion More Of...

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Sequester Means $1 Billion More Of Cocaine Floods Into US: Coast Guard By Sydney J. Freedberg Jr. on May 22, 2013 at 12:01 PM [Corrected drug submersible range] WASHINGTON: The automatic, across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration will reduce the Coast Guard and Navy forces available to intercept South American cocaine to record lows, said Rear Adm. Charles Michel, the Coast Guard two-star who commands Joint Interagency Task Force-South (JIATF-South). The result? “The sequestration cuts in aircraft and ships that are given to me will result in 38 metric tons additional of cocaine [entering the US],” Michel estimated. For comparison, JIATF-South seized 152 tons in all of 2012, so losing 38 tons would be a 25 percent reduction in seizures. At current street prices, he added, “It’s over a billion dollars in trafficker profits.” Those missing 38 tons don’t just mean strung-out Americans: “All that’s going to get dumped into Mexico and Central America on the way to the United States,” he added, further destabilizing countries with sky-high murder rates.
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The fundamental problem predates the sequester. US Coast Guard and Navy resources dedicated to drug interdiction have been declining for “the last couple of decades,” ever since their “War on Drugs” peak, Michel told reporters at Defense Writers’ Group breakfast. During those decades there’s been progress, especially in Colombia, which produces an estimated up to 97 percent of all cocaine sold in the United States. But the narcotraficantes who survived have become much more sophisticated, advancing from the “go-fast” speedboats of the Miami Vice era, to “semi- submersible” craft barely visible above the surface of the water, to fully submersible submarines. As a result, even before the sequester hit, the rate at which the US and its foreign partners in JIATF-South intercept drug shipments has been on a long-term downward slope. When the then-chief of US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), Air Force Gen. Doug Fraser, spoke to the Defense Writers’ Group last year , he estimated that his subordinates in JIATF-South were only able to intercept about 33 percent of the drug shipments they knew about and were able to track. But that was through the end of 2011. “Last year [2012] we were somewhere around the upper 20 percent,” said Rear Adm. Michel this morning. “This year [2013], it’s
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