Operation CARIBBE

Operation CARIBBE is Canada’s participation in the multinational campaign against illicit trafficking by transnational organized crime in the Caribbean sea and the eastern Pacific Ocean.

Attention: Update

From November 15 to 18, 2016, Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Edmonton assisted the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) in the disruption of three separate illicit drug shipments, in international waters off the Pacific coast of Central America. The combined weight of the disrupted drug shipments, confirmed to be cocaine by the USCG, was an estimated 2,120kg. Most of the cocaine from each disruption was recovered from the ocean after being jettisoned by suspected smugglers in panga-style fishing vessels. Learn more.

Currently one CP-140 Aurora aircraft is supporting Operation CARIBBE.  The Aurora is from 14 Wing Greenwood 405 Long Range Patrol Squadron and began patrolling the Caribbean Sea on November 24, 2016.

HMC Ships Brandon and Edmonton participated in Operation CARIBBE from October 24 to December 6, 2016. HMCS Kingston participated in Operation CARIBBE from October 17 to December 1, 2016. Between February and April 2016, HMC Ships Moncton, Summerside, Edmonton, and Saskatoon also deployed on Operation CARIBBE.

Since February 2016, the Canadian Armed Forces has assisted in seizing or disrupting a total of approximately 5,750 kg of cocaine and 1,520 kg of marijuana.

As part of Operation CARIBBE, Canada is contributing Canadian Armed Forces ships and aircraft to Operation MARTILLO – a joint, combined and interagency effort by Canada, the United States, France, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom to prevent illicit trafficking in the Caribbean sea, the eastern Pacific Ocean, and the coastal waters of Central America.

The task force

The forces deployed are normally warships from the Royal Canadian Navy and CP-140 Aurora aircraft from the long-range patrol squadrons of the Royal Canadian Air Force.

Canadian warships deployed on Operation CARIBBE act in a support role, locating and tracking vessels of interest. Ships carrying U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachments also approach and intercept suspect vessels to allow the LEDET personnel to conduct boarding operations.

CP-140 Aurora aircraft and their crews deployed on Operation CARIBBE fly sorties in international airspace over the Caribbean sea, the Gulf of Mexico and the eastern Pacific Ocean to detect, identify and track vessels and aircraft of interest.

Mission context

Operation CARIBBE began in November 2006. In October 2010, it was expanded with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Commander of Canada Command, acting for the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces, and the Deputy Commandant for Operations of the U.S. Coast Guard, acting for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. This Memorandum of Understanding allows Law Enforcement Detachments (LEDETs) of the U.S. Coast Guard to operate from Canadian warships deployed on Operation CARIBBE.

United States-led Operation MARTILLO

Launched in January 2012, Operation MARTILLO is a multinational, joint, combined and interagency effort by the nations of the Western Hemisphere and Europe to prevent illicit trafficking in the Caribbean sea, the eastern Pacific Ocean, and the coastal waters of Central America.

The United States takes the lead in Operation MARTILLO with a substantial interagency task force made up from its front-line federal departments, most notably Homeland Security (represented mainly by the U.S. Coast Guard), Treasury, State and Justice, as well as Defense. The mounting formation is Joint Inter-Agency Task Force South, a subordinate command of United States Southern Command that specializes in interagency and multinational operations against illicit trafficking, and all-source intelligence support to these operations. As well as Canada and the United States, Operation MARTILLO includes forces from France, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom.

Operation MARTILLO demonstrates the international community’s commitment to countering the regional threat of transnational organized crime, and to improving communications and information-sharing between law-enforcement agencies.

Legal parameters

Efforts by the international community to eliminate illicit trafficking began in 1931 with the Paris Convention, a drug-control treaty sponsored by the League of Nations. In 1961, the United Nations issued its Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs to add synthetic opioid drugs to the list of materials covered in the Paris Convention. The 1971 U.N. Convention on Psychotropic Substances and the 1972 revision of the U.N. Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs further expanded the international drug-control regime, and the 1988 U.N. Convention on the Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances specifically criminalized the international trade in illicit drugs.

The connection between illicit trafficking, organized crime and corruption was established in international law with the U.N. Convention on Transnational Organized Crime in 2000 and the U.N. Convention on Corruption in 2003.

The results



In 2015, the Canadian Armed Forces contributed four CP-140 Aurora maritime patrol aircraft as well as the following warships: five maritime coastal defence vessels (HMC Ships Brandon, Goose Bay, Nanaimo, Shawinigan and Whitehorse); two Halifax-class frigates with their embarked CH-124 Sea King Helicopter (HMC Ships Winnipeg and Vancouver); and one Iroquois-class destroyer with its two embarked CH-124 Sea King Helicopters (HMCS Athabaskan).

The CP-140 Auroras flew 321 hours and the CH-124 Sea Kings flew 150 hours whereas the warships deployed for a combined total of 344 days during the operation in 2015. Canadian Armed Forces aircraft, warships and personnel directly contributed to the seizure or disruption of approximately 18.5 metric tons of cocaine and 3 metric tons of marijuana this year, more than any other year since the Canadian Armed Forces began supporting Op CARIBBE in 2006.



In 2014, the Canadian Armed Forces contributed nine ships – HMC Ships Nanaimo, Whitehorse, Glace Bay, Summerside, Athabaskan, Calgary, Brandon, Yellowknife and Kingston – and four CP-140 Aurora aircraft detachments in support of Op CARIBBE. The ships collectively sailed for 281 days. The CP-140 Auroras flew 310 hours and the CH-124 Sea Kings flew 185 hours. In total, CAF assets assisted in the interception of 5375 kg of cocaine and 544 kg of marijuana.



In 2013, the Canadian Armed Forces contributed four CP-140 Aurora surveillance aircraft; four MCDVs - HMC Ships Edmonton, Kingston, Summerside and Yellowknife; two Halifax-class frigates - HMC Ships Ottawa and Ville de Québec; one supply vessel - HMCS Preserver; and one Victoria-class submarine - HMCS Victoria, to combat transnational crime, resulting in the seizure or disruption of approximately 6434 kg kilograms of cocaine.



In 2012, the Canadian Armed Forces contributed six ships – HMC Ships Kingston, Goose Bay, St Johns, Preserver, Iroquois and Ottawa – and five CP-140 Aurora aircraft. In total, CAF assets contributed to the interception of 8060 kg of cocaine while on patrol in the Caribbean sea and in the eastern Pacific ocean; 3000kg attributed to the assistance of HMCS Ottawa and the remaining 5060 kg to the surveillance capability provided by our deployed CP-140 Auroras.



In 2011 the Canadian Armed Forces contributed two destroyers — HMC Ships Athabaskan and Algonquin; two frigates —Toronto and St. John’s; four maritime coastal defence vessels — Goose Bay, Kingston, Moncton and Summerside; and one submarine, HMCS Corner Brook, along with five CP-140 Aurora deployments. HMCS St John’s supported the USCG Cutter Cypress in the recovery of 6,750 kilograms of cocaine from a scuttled semi-submersible vessel, and HMCS Toronto handed over a small boat loaded with 68 bales of cocaine-weighing approximately 1700 kg- to the Nicaraguan Navy.

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