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DOD Works With U.S. Agencies, International Partners to Halt Illicit Drug Flow

Nov. 6, 2020 | BY David Vergun , DOD News

The administration's National Drug Control Strategy continues to focus on halting drug trafficking and the use of illicit drugs, said a Defense Department official.

The Department's statutory mission is to serve as the single lead agency for the detection and monitoring of the aerial and maritime transit of illicit drugs into the United States, another Defense Department official, Matthew J. Flynn, deputy assistant secretary of defense for counternarcotics and global threats, explained.  

Military members ride aboard a small boat.
Counter Narcotics Ops
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Nitze with Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment team conducts enhanced counter narcotics operations in the Eastern Pacific, July 29, 2020. Personnel aboard the ship recovered 82 kilograms of suspected cocaine and 2,961 pounds of suspected marijuana. Nitze is deployed to the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility to counter illicit drug trafficking in the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific.
Photo By: Navy Ensign William Fong
VIRIN: 200729-N-EW497-002C

One priority of the strategy is to reduce the availability of illegal drugs in the United States, Flynn said.  "By performing this priority mission, DOD helps deter, disrupt and degrade potential threats before they reach the United States and harm our citizens," he said. With help from DOD, federal agencies — such as the Coast Guard, the Drug Enforcement Administration, Customs and Border Protection and others — are enhancing their efforts focused on the interdiction of heroin, cocaine, fentanyl, methamphetamines and precursor chemicals in the air and maritime approaches to the United States and along its borders. Flynn said the DOD aims to reduce the harm posed by criminal networks. "Through our programs, we disrupt and degrade drug trafficking and other illicit threat networks, in order to reduce them to a level where they no longer threaten United States citizens and U.S. national security," he said.  

In conjunction with other U.S. departments and agencies and international partners, DOD also supports the administration's national priority to identify, disrupt and degrade transnational criminal organizations, or TCOs, by targeting their infrastructure and preventing the criminal facilitation of their activities in various ways, Flynn said. 

A man in a police uniform walks with a dog.
Military Police
Police Sgt. Damian Williams of the Fort Irwin Police Department and his canine partner, Cash, look for planted narcotics during a joint Military Working Dog training session at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, Calif., Dec. 11, 2020.
Photo By: Giancarlo Casem, Air Force
VIRIN: 191211-F-HC101-2017C
A jet soars in the sky.
B-1B Lancer
A 34th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron B-1B Lancer aircraft departs from Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, on a mission to strike illicit drug facilities in Afghanistan, May 19, 2018.
Photo By: Air Force Staff Sgt. Joshua Horton
VIRIN: 180519-Z-DI861-0243C

"The task of identifying and targeting drug trafficking and other illicit threat networks is complex and requires close coordination among U.S. and international intelligence, [the] military and law enforcement partners," he noted.

DOD supports U.S. government and international efforts to target TCOs at their source and build international partnerships to prevent transnational threat networks from undermining sovereign governments, decreasing regional stability and threatening the United States, he said. 

Two people in flight suits walk on a ship's flight deck.
Military Mission
Coast Guardsmen assigned to Law Enforcement Detachment 407 prepare to board an MH-60S Sea Hawk, assigned to the “Wildcards” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 23, on the flight deck of the Independence-class littoral combat ship USS Gabrielle Giffords in the Eastern Pacific, Oct. 23, 2020. The vessel is deployed to the U.S. 4th Fleet area of operations to support Joint Interagency Task Force South’s mission, which includes countering illicit drug trafficking in the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Allen Michael Amani
VIRIN: 201023-N-YM720-2005

"We have small teams at the combatant commands and elsewhere in DOD that provide intelligence analysis and counter threat finance analysis support to U.S. law enforcement partners by helping them identify and understand illicit networks and financial flows," Flynn said. "With this support, our law enforcement partners are better able to disrupt the activities of drug trafficking and other transnational criminal organizations, including their abilities to generate, store, move and use money and other forms of value." 

Under the authority of the assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict, the department's counterdrug program is administered by the DASD for counternarcotics and global threats.