Counterdrug program trains international law enforcement partners

By Master Sgt. Betty Squatrito-Martin National Guard Bureau


ANNEVILLE, Pa., - The National Guard Counterdrug Program conducted the first class of its newly developed course aimed at disrupting illicit drug trafficking networks July 10-Aug. 10.

The course, Disrupting Illicit Trafficking Networks, gives international law enforcement partners an opportunity to train alongside their U.S. counterparts in the detection, disruption, interdiction and curtailment of illicit drug trafficking networks.

The class was taught at the Northeast Counterdrug Training Center.

"This training gives smaller nations without the capabilities an opportunity to train at a very high level and learn techniques to counter the narcotic trade," said U.S. Army Capt. Anthony Gianforti, National Guard Counterdrug Program NCTC commandant.

The course has six modules: illegal contraband activities, evidence collection for prosecution, practical hands-on exercises in searching, identifying, interviewing and investigating illicit narcotics, applying planning models for operations designed to mitigate organizations that traffic in contraband both within country and its final destination, mastering effective techniques for the following situations: traffic stops, interdictions, searching commercial transportation vehicles and vehicle interdictions, and employing methods designed to influence contraband networks.

"We are excited to get this course off the ground and provide this opportunity to our international partners," U.S. Army Maj. Kristina Murphy, National Guard Counterdrug Training branch chief, said.

A collaborative effort developed by NG CDP headquarters, NCTC and the Western Regional Counterdrug Training Center in Washington, Disrupting Illicit Trafficking Networks, has been certified and listed in the Training Military Articles and Services List. The TMASL designation makes the course available for our foreign partners.

"Our people at NCTC and WRCTC put a lot of hard work into developing this course and bringing it to fruition," Murphy said.

The NG CDP also worked closely with U.S. Southern Command to identify Suriname, as the first country to send a student to attend the pilot course. Errol, a police inspector with 35 years of law enforcement experience, was selected. Suriname is in South America and is bordered by Guyana, Brazil and French Guiana.

"The course demonstrates the Training Centers' support for combatant commands," Gianforti said. "It shows a willingness and the need to work with international partners to address counternarcotic issues."

Errol, who consistently has a smile on his face, appears to fit right in with his classmates.

"He [Errol] is a good student. He is asking good questions about search and seizure," James Eagleson, course instructor, said.

Eagleson said he gives a lot of references to Suriname—sharing some of his techniques and experiences with us and sharing the differences between some of their laws and U.S. laws.

"He brings his experience to our people who haven't had his experience, which allows cross talk on best practices," Gianforti said.

Classroom time is reinforced with practical exercises where students put into action what they learn in the classroom.

"Getting hands on experience is good training—challenging and fun," Eagleson said.

"All the training is good, I think this is very educational and I am learning a lot, Errol said. "The level here is higher, more professional. When we look in a car, we look in the car and it's over. Here, I learned that a car has a lot of hiding places."

After 23 days of instruction, Errol will have shared his 35 years of experience with his classmates here, and he will have been introduced to a group of new and wide-ranging law enforcement techniques. He will go home and share his 23 days of experience here with his colleagues.

"My duty is to bring information back to my colleagues," Errol said. "It is very important for my colleagues to know what I've learned."

In addition to sharing information, he will apply his newly learned techniques to the threat of narcotics trafficking in his country.

"I am sure when I am over there [Suriname] with things I learned here, it will help me to do my job more professionally—to collect evidence the right way."

"We are thrilled to have had Errol attend the course," Murphy said. "We think he will be the first of many, and we look forward to serving the needs and building the capacity of our international partners."

According to the Central Intelligence Agency World Factbook Online, Suriname is a growing transshipment point for South American drugs—drugs destined for Europe via the Netherlands and Brazil.