Operation CARIBBE

Operation CARIBBE takes place in Caribbean Sea and the eastern Pacific Ocean. Under this operation, Canada sends Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) ships and aircraft to help Operation MARTILLO. This United States-led effort involves fourteen countries and aims to stop trafficking.

Information: Update

There are currently no CAF assets or personnel deployed on this operation.

Operation CARIBBE 2018

From February to April, 2018, Her Majesty’s Canadian Ships (HMCS) Whitehorse and Edmonton were deployed on Operation CARIBBE in the eastern Pacific Ocean.

The ships assisted the United States Coast Guard (USCG) to seize or disrupt close to 3,000 kg of cocaine:

  • On March 24, HMCS Whitehorse helped the USCG seize about 30 kg of cocaine. Another estimated 845 kg of cocaine was thrown overboard by the suspected smugglers as they fled the scene. 
  • On April 3, HMCS Edmonton helped the USCG to seize 23 bales of cocaine, weighing 461 kg. The USCG also detained the four crew members. 
  • On April 5, HMCS Whitehorse helped the USCG to seize about 1 520 kg of cocaine. The cocaine was being smuggled in a 60-foot fishing vessel which was towing seven panga-style boats. The boats tried to evade the authorities. Two boats with USCG law enforcement members were launched to pursue and stop them. The USCG located six bales of cocaine in the water and seized another 20 bales. They also detained the 20 crew members.

In May and June 2018, a CP-140 Aurora patrolled the eastern Pacific Ocean. It provided surveillance to support Joint Interagency Task Force South.

On May 28, the CP-140 tracked a small boat suspected of smuggling narcotics. The aircrew relayed the information to the USCG. The USCG then seized approximately 810 kg of cocaine from the suspect vessel.

The task force

Canada sends Royal Canadian Navy warships and crews on this mission. They work with the United States Coast Guard (USCG) and United States Navy.  Canada also sends CP-140 Aurora long-range patrol aircraft from the Royal Canadian Air Force.

The warships find and track vessels of interest. The USCG law enforcement teams then approach and intercept them. The teams then board and inspect the ship and cargo.

CP-140 Aurora aircraft and their crews detect and track vessels and aircraft of interest. They patrol in international airspace. The area covers the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico and the eastern Pacific Ocean.

Mission context

Operation CARIBBE began in November 2006. In October 2010, it expanded with a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the U.S. and Canada. The MOU allows U.S. Coast Guard teams to operate from Canadian warships.

Operation MARTILLO (U.S.-led)

Operation MARTILLO began in January 2012.  It covers the Caribbean Sea, the eastern Pacific Ocean, and the international waters off the coast of Central America.  Fourteen nations work together to stop illegal trafficking. The United States leads the operation.

There is a large U.S. task force made up from federal departments. These are Homeland Security (mainly the U.S. Coast Guard), Treasury, State and Justice, and Defense.

Joint Inter-Agency Task Force South leads the operation. It reports to United States Southern Command. It brings together other agencies and other countries to reduce illegal trafficking. It also provides all-source intelligence for the operation.

Operation MARTILLO shows that the countries that take part are committed to stopping the threat of large-scale organized crime.  It also shows how important it is for law-enforcement agencies to work together and share information.

Legal parameters

The work to stop trafficking began in 1931 with the Paris Convention. This was a drug-control treaty sponsored by the League of Nations.

In 1961, the United Nations issued its Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. This added synthetic opioid drugs to the list of materials in the Paris Convention.

Ten years later, the global effort to control drugs grew with two more legal steps. The first was the 1971 U.N. Convention on Psychotropic Substances. The second was the 1972 revision of the U.N. Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.

The U.N. Convention on the Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances was passed in 1988. This made international trade in illegal drugs a criminal act.

Two more U.N. conventions strengthened the legal grounding. The first was the 2000 U.N. Convention on Transnational Organized Crime. The second was the 2003 U.N. Convention on Corruption. They connected trafficking, organized crime and corruption under international law.

Past deployments - the results

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