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Operation Martillo

Operation Martillo (Hammer) is a U.S., European, and Western Hemisphere effort targeting illicit trafficking routes in coastal waters along the Central American isthmus.  U.S. military participation is led by Joint Interagency Task Force South, a component of U.S. Southern Command.  

 Latest Developments & Imagery

Coast Guardsmen from the Cutter Bertholf from Alameda, Calif., seize more than 12,800 pounds of cocaine and apprehend four suspected drug smugglers from a self-propelled semisubmersible about 300 miles southwest of Panama March 3. (Coast Guard video courtesy of Cutter Bertholf/released)

April 22: USCGC Bertholf completes deployment; stopped $220M of drugs

April 20: USS Shamal completes Operation Martillo deployment

April 7: USCG offloads 14 tons of cocaine seized in Eastern Pacific

Other Recent Developments

March 29: Coast Guardsmen seize more than 6 tons of cocaine

March 29: Operation Martillo enters 5th year

March 15: CBP aircraft detects traffickers, leads to Panamanian seizure of $16M of drugs (

March 9: USCG Cutter Valiant returns from counterdrug patrol after seizing $141M of narcotics

March 3: USS Lassen joins Operation Martillo, patrolling off Central America

Imagery Resources 

More Operation Martillo photos & video at Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System

More Operation Martillo photos at photo gallery - search using 'Operation Marillo', cocaine, drugs, illicit trafficking, interdiction Operation Martillo photos

Overview of U.S. military support to Operation Martillo

The U.S. contribution to the multinational detection, monitoring and interdiction operation includes U.S. Navy and Coast Guard vessels, aircraft from U.S. federal law enforcement agencies, and military and law enforcement units from various nations working together to deny transnational criminal organizations the ability to exploit these transshipment routes for the movement of narcotics, precursor chemicals, bulk cash, and weapons along Central American shipping routes. 

Operation Martillo is a critical component of the U.S. government’s coordinated interagency regional security strategy in support of the White House Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime and the U.S. Central America Regional Security Initiative Fourteen countries are participating: Belize, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, France, Guatemala, Honduras, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Panama, Spain, United Kingdom and the United States.  Chile has also contributed to the operation.

By the Numbers

Since its launch Jan. 15, 2012, Martillo has supported the seizure of 693 metric tons of cocaine, $25 million in bulk cash, 581 vessels and aircraft detained and the arrest of 1,863 detainees.

More information

White House Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime of July 2011

The White House Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime of July 2011 is organized around a single, unifying principle: to build, balance, and integrate the tools of American power to combat TOC and related threats to our national security – and to urge our partners to do the same.  Learn more about CTOC Strategy

U.S. Central America Regional Security Initiative (CARSI)

The desired objective of CARSI is to produce a safer and more secure region where criminal organizations no longer wield the power to destabilize governments or threaten national and regional security and public safety, as well as to prevent the entry and spread of illicit drugs, violence, and transnational threats to countries throughout the region and to the United States.  Learn more about CARSI

Joint Interagency Task Force South (JIATF South)

The Key West, Fla.-based JIATF South is the National Task Force that serves as the catalyst for integrated and synchronized interagency counter-illicit trafficking operations, and is responsible for the detection and monitoring of suspect air and maritime drug activity in the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and the eastern Pacific. JIATF South also collects, processes, and disseminates counter drug information for interagency and partner nation operations.  Learn more about Joint Interagency Task Force South

Department of Defense role

While the Department of Defense is not the lead agency responsible for countering TOC networks, its unique capabilities can be leveraged to support other U.S. government and partner nation efforts.  SOUTHCOM is aligned with and supports lead agencies, such as the Departments of Justice and State, as well as partner nations in the C-TOC fight.  Learn more about DoD/SOUTHCOM CTOC efforts

Department of Defense interdiction role explained

The DoD is the lead federal agency in efforts to detect and monitor aerial and maritime transit of illegal drugs towards the United States.  Based on information gathered by JIATF South-coordinated operations, U.S. law enforcement agencies and partner nations take the lead in interdicting drug runners.  U.S. military interdiction involvement, if any, is in support of those law enforcement agencies. 

Typically, U.S. military personnel are involved in supporting an interdiction during maritime operations in international waters, where U.S. Navy ships and helicopters patrol and intercept suspected traffickers.  The actual interdictions – boarding, search, seizures and arrests – are led and conducted by embarked U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachments or partner nation drug law enforcement agencies. 





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