Since the cocaine boom in the 1980’s, the white has been in high demand across the world. To fulfill this demand, drug smugglers (mainly from South America) ship kilos upon kilos across the waters to fill orders in many countries. The U.S. Coast Guard is one of the top opponents of the international drug trade, intercepting as many shipments as it can. In fact, in 2015, the Coast Guard seized considerably more cocaine than it did last year. However, this is due to an increase in the amount of blow being shipped out. Although the interceptions have been record breaking, the Coast Guard still fell short of its quota for the year.
According to a new report by the Department of Homeland Security, the flow of cocaine increased from 945 metric tons in 2014 to 1,254 metric tons in 2015. In 2014, the Coast Guard “removed” 91 metric tons, and that amount increased to 144.8 metric tons in 2015. However, the removal rate in 2015 was 11.5%, well short of the targeted removal rate of 13.8%. In the past five years, the Coast Guard has failed to meet its target in four of them. In 2013, the target removal rate of 14.1% was exceeded, with 15.3% intercepted.
According to the report, the following factors impact the Coast Guard’s removal rate:
• Continuously changing modes, tactics and routes by TCOs (e.g. use of submersible type vessels and logistic support vessels);
• The advancing age and deteriorating condition of the Coast Guard’s cutter fleet;
• The availability of aviation assets from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), U.S. Navy (USN) and Allied nations to support Detection and Monitoring in the Transit Zone;
• The availability of surface assets from the USN and Allied nations to support Detection and Monitoring in the Transit Zone;
• The availability of Coast Guard. USN, and Allied surface assets to support embark Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachments (LEDETs) to perform interdiction and apprehension activities;
• The availability, quality and timeliness of tactical intelligence; new or upgraded diplomatic and legal tools;
• The fielding of new capabilities (e.g. National Security Cutter, Fast Response Cutter, and Maritime Pattol Aircraft).
“Due to a forecasted reduction in the level of ship and aircraft support,” from the Navy, the target removal rate for the Coast Guard for 2016 has been lowered to 13.7%.