Campaign Martillo

​Campaign 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. 

Recent Photos

Bales of illegal drugs, worth an estimated $475 million, are offloaded onto pallets, Sept. 15, 2022, at Coast Guard Base Miami Beach, Florida. The illegal narcotics were offloaded by the crew of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Legare (WMEC 912). (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Stephen Lehmann)
Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Tezanos crewmembers offloaded 1,100 kilograms of cocaine, valued at $22 million dollars, at Coast Guard Base San Juan Aug. 8, 2022, following three separate interdictions of drug smuggling vessels near Puerto Rico. Fourteen Dominican Republic nationals apprehended in these cases are facing federal prosecution in Puerto Rico. These interdictions are the result of multi-agency efforts involving the Caribbean Border Interagency Group and the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)
The Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Tezanos small boat crew recovers 13 bales (1,653 pounds) of cocaine jettisoned from a drug smuggling vessel that was interdicted near Puerto Rico Aug. 3, 2022. Four Dominican Republic nationals who were apprehended in this case are facing federal prosecution in Puerto Rico. This interdiction is the result of multi-agency efforts involving the Caribbean Border Interagency Group and the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force. (U.S. Coast Guard photo).
The Coast Guard Cutter Kimball (WMSL-756) crew offloads about 11,300 pounds of cocaine and roughly 4,000 pounds of marijuana worth more than $223 million on March 31, 2022, in San Diego. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Alex Gray)
Pallets of illegal narcotics offloaded from U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Dauntless' (WMEC-624) following a drug offload at Base Miami Beach, Florida, April 1, 2022. The Dauntless is homeported in Pensacola, Florida. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Seaman Eric Rodriguez)
U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Dauntless' (WMEC-624) crewmembers offload bales of illegal narcotics on to pallet at Base Miami Beach, Florida, April 1, 2022. The Dauntless is homeported in Pensacola, Florida. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Seaman Eric Rodriguez)
U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Dauntless' (WMEC-624) crewmembers offload bales of illegal narcotics on to pallet at Base Miami Beach, Florida, April 1, 2022. The Dauntless is homeported in Pensacola, Florida. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Seaman Eric Rodriguez)
CARIBBEAN SEA - (Jan. 7, 2022) – Approximately 315 kilograms of suspected cocaine seized by the Freedom-variant littoral combat ship USS Milwaukee (LCS 5) and embarked U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) 402 sits on the flight deck before being offloaded by law enforcement officials, Jan. 7, 2022. Milwaukee is deployed to the U.S. 4th Fleet area of operations to support Joint Interagency Task Force South’s mission, which includes counter-illicit drug trafficking missions in the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Danielle Baker/Released)
CARIBBEAN SEA - (Jan. 7, 2022) -- Sailors assigned to the Freedom-variant littoral combat ship USS Milwaukee (LCS 5) and embarked U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) 402, wait on scene with a suspected drug smuggling go-fast vessel (GFV) during a drug interdiction operation, Jan. 7, 2021. Milwaukee is deployed to the U.S. 4th Fleet area of operations to support Joint Interagency Task Force South’s mission, which includes counter-illicit drug trafficking missions in the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Danielle Baker/Released)
Coast Guard Cutter Dauntless' (WMEC-624) crew offloads more than $148 million in illegal narcotics at Base Miami Beach, Dec. 7, 2021. The contraband was seized by members of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Wave Knight and the His Netherlands Majesty’s Ship Holland during three separate interdictions in the Caribbean Sea. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Brian Zimmerman)
USCGC Northland (WMEC 904) interdicts a low-profile vessel in the Eastern Pacific Ocean in August 2021. The Northland crew returned to Portsmouth Monday, following an 80-day patrol in the Eastern Pacific Ocean in support of the Coast Guard Eleventh District and Joint Interagency Task Force South. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)
A pile of seized drugs, estimated to be $96 million, is transferred off the Coast Guard Cutter Forest Rednour in San Diego, Sept. 24, 2021. The seizure and bullet-ridden boat engine cover were processed and transferred to federal authorities. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Adam Stanton.
Coast Guard Cutter Tahoma's crew offloads more than 7,500 pounds of cocaine, an estimated street value of $143.5 million, at Port Everglades, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, June 14, 2021. The law enforcement phase of counter-smuggling operations in the Eastern Pacific Ocean is conducted under the authority of the 11th Coast Guard District, headquartered in Alameda, and the interdictions, including the actual boardings, are led and conducted by members of the U.S. Coast Guard. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Charly Tautfest).
The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf (WMSL-750) offloads approximately 7,500 pounds of seized cocaine and marijuana in San Diego, March 20, 2021. The drugs, worth an estimated $126.7 million, were seized in international waters of the Eastern Pacific Ocean between January and February representing 10 suspected drug smuggling vessel interdictions off the coasts of Mexico, Central and South America by the following Coast Guard and Navy ships. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Travis Magee/Released)
Adm. Karl Schultz, the Coast Guard commandant addresses the audience during a drug offload by the Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf (WMSL-750) in San Diego, March 20, 2021. The drugs, worth an estimated $126.7 million, were seized in international waters of the Eastern Pacific Ocean between January and February representing 10 suspected drug smuggling vessel interdictions off the coasts of Mexico, Central and South America by the following Coast Guard and Navy ships. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Travis Magee).

Overview of U.S. military support to Campaign 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. 

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.

More information

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 threat 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 threat network fight. 

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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