Operation CARIBBE is the Canadian Forces' recurring participation in the multinational campaign against illicit trafficking by transnational organized crime in the Caribbean basin and the eastern Pacific Ocean.
Operation CARIBBE began in November 2006. In October 2010, it was expanded with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Commander of Canada Command, acting for the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces, and the Deputy Commandant for Operations of the U.S. Coast Guard, acting for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. This Memorandum of Understanding allows Law Enforcement Detachments (LEDETs) of the U.S. Coast Guard to operate from Canadian warships deployed on Operation CARIBBE.
In 2012, Operation CARIBBE is contributing Canadian Forces ships and aircraft to Operation MARTILLO, a joint, combined and interagency effort by the nations of the Western Hemisphere and Europe to prevent illicit trafficking in the Caribbean basin, the eastern Pacific Ocean, and the littoral waters of Central America.
The task force
Commander CJOC is the supported commander for Operation CARIBBE. The forces deployed on the operation are normally warships from the Royal Canadian Navy and CP-140 Aurora aircraft from the long-range patrol squadrons of the Royal Canadian Air Force.
Canadian warships deployed on Operation CARIBBE act in a support role, locating and tracking vessels of interest. Ships carrying U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachments also approach and intercept suspect vessels to allow the LEDET personnel to conduct boarding operations.
CP-140 Aurora aircraft and their crews deployed on Operation CARIBBE fly sorties in international airspace over the Caribbean basin, the Gulf of Mexico and the eastern Pacific Ocean to detect, identify and track vessels and aircraft of interest.
Transnational criminal organizations use the Caribbean basin and Central America as transhipment areas for the illicit traffic in drugs, weapons, money and people. Illicit trafficking is a significant source of revenue for organized crime, a growing threat to national, regional and international security and, therefore, to North America and Canada.
Efforts by the international community to eliminate illicit trafficking began in 1931 with the Paris Convention, a drug-control treaty sponsored by the League of Nations. In 1961, the United Nations issued its Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs to add synthetic opioid drugs to the list of materials covered in the Paris Convention. The 1971 U.N. Convention on Psychotropic Substances and the 1972 revision of the U.N. Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs further expanded the international drug-control regime, and the 1988 U.N. Convention on the Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances specifically criminalized the international trade in illicit drugs.
The connection between illicit trafficking, organized crime and corruption was established in international law with the U.N. Convention on Transnational Organized Crime in 2000 and the U.N. Convention on Corruption in 2003.
Launched in January 2012, Operation MARTILLO is a multinational, joint, combined and interagency effort by the nations of the Western Hemisphere and Europe to prevent illicit trafficking in the Caribbean basin, the eastern Pacific Ocean, and the littoral waters of Central America.
The United States takes the lead in Operation MARTILLO with a substantial interagency task force made up from its front-line federal departments, most notably Homeland Security (represented mainly by the U.S. Coast Guard), Treasury, State and Justice, as well as Defense. The mounting formation is Joint Inter-Agency Task Force South, a subordinate command of United States Southern Command that specializes in interagency and multinational operations against illicit trafficking, and all-source intelligence support to these operations. As well as Canada and the United States, Operation MARTILLO includes forces from France, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom.
Operation MARTILLO demonstrates the international community's commitment to countering the regional threat of transnational organized crime, and to improving communications and information-sharing between law-enforcement agencies. It has successfully disrupted illicit trafficking operations in the Caribbean basin, the eastern Pacific Ocean, and the littoral waters of Central America.
International cooperation plays a major role in suppressing illicit trafficking in international waters and airspace.
In 2010, the Canadian Forces contributed HMCS Algonquin (destroyer), HMC ships Toronto and Vancouver (frigates) and HMCS Protecteur (replenishment ship). The destroyer and frigates, between them, intercepted more than 29 metric tons of illegal drugs with a street value of US$580 million.
In 2011, Canada's participation expanded with the deployment of two destroyers — HMC Ships Athabaskan and Algonquin; two frigates —Toronto and St. John's; four maritime coastal defence vessels — Goose Bay, Kingston, Moncton and Summerside; and one submarine, HMCS Corner Brook, along with seven CP-140 Aurora deployments. HMCS St John's supported the USCG Cutter Cypress in the recovery of 6,750 kilograms of cocaine from a scuttled semi-submersible vessel, and HMCS Toronto handed over a small boat loaded with 68 bales of cocaine to the Nicaraguan Navy. In fiscal 2011, Joint Interagency Task Force South documented the movement of 767 metric tonnes of cocaine from South America towards North America; during the same period, 201 metric tonnes of cocaine were seized either on the high seas, in Mexico or Central America, or in the Caribbean basin. The wholesale value of that amount — based on street prices in Miami, Florida — is estimated at more than US $4 billion.
In 2012, under Operation MARTILLO, law enforcement personnel supported by military ships, aircraft and land forces have seized illicitly trafficked material worth millions of dollars. On 17 July 2012, for example, a single U.S. Navy frigate landed 2,408 kilograms of cocaine and 109 kilograms of marijuana, some US$93 million worth of illicit drugs seized in the course of only six boarding missions.
Government of Canada
Pertinent United Nations documents
Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961 Amended 24 March 1972
Convention on Psychotropic Substances 21 February 1971
Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances 25 May 1988
Convention against Transnational Organized Crime 15 November 2000
Convention against Corruption 31 October 2003
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