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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:

Dec. 11: USS Shamal in region to support Operation Martillo

Nov. 19: Coast Guard offloads 25 tons of cocaine seized in Eastern Pacific

Sept. 29: Coast Guard offloads $41 million of seized drugs (USCG News)

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf offloads more than 25 tons of cocaine in San Diego Nov. 19, 2015.  

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf offloads more than 25 tons of cocaine in San Diego Nov. 19, 2015. The drugs were from 26 separate interdictions conducted by the Coast Guard and international partners in the Eastern Pacific. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Joel Guzman)

Other Recent Developments

Sept. 23: USCG, CBP interdict semi-sub packed with 7.5 tons of cocaine

Sept. 21: CBP aircraft assist interdicitons of 3,400 lbs of cocaine (

Sept. 18: USCG interdictions in Caribbean lead to seizure of $11M of drugs

Aug 27: CBP aircraft finds at-sea traffickers; $42M of cocaine seized (

Aug 11: Coast Guard offloads $1 billion of seized drugs

July 22: US agencies interdict semi-sub packed with 8 tons of cocaine

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

As of March 2015, Operation Martillo has resulted in the disruption of over 400 metric tons of cocaine over the past four years, denying drug traffickers $8 billion in potential revenue.

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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