By Tank Murdoch @TheNatSent
(TNS) President Donald Trump has ordered the U.S. military to assist federal border and counternarcotics agents as Mexico-based drug-and-human-smuggling cartels plan to take advantage of the pandemic to infiltrate the United States.
The president ordered U.S. Navy warships in the eastern Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea to support counterdrug operations aimed at interdicting smugglers who intend to exploit the pandemic to their advantage, according to U.S. intelligence, The Epoch Times reported.
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Also, Trump ordered additional surveillance aircraft and special forces operators to the region, nearly doubling American counternarcotics capability in the Western Hemisphere. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said 22 partner nations would also be taking part in the effort.
â€œAs governments and nations focus on the coronavirus, there is a growing threat that cartels, criminals, terrorists, and other malign actors will try to exploit the situation for their own gain,â€ the president said. â€œWe must not let that happen.â€
For some reason, American counternarcotics teams have been short on resources and have been unable to interdict all of the drug trafficking that has been occurring along established sea routes heading into the U.S., though American intelligence agencies have long known about them. Last year alone, authorities seized about 280 metric tons of drugs being smuggled into the country.
According to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff U.S. Army Gen. Mark Milley, the United States has intelligence indicating that the cartels are looking to exploit the crisis to smuggle more drugs into the country.
The mission has been months in the planning, according to the Times. The mission’s formal launch comes a few days after the Justice Department indicted illegitimate Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro as well as members of his inner circle and military.
They stand accused of executing a narcoterrorist conspiracy to smuggle up to 250 metric tons of cocaine every year into the U.S., half to arrive by sea.
â€œIf I was just indicted for drug trafficking by the United States with a $15 million reward for my capture, having the U.S. Navy conducting anti-drug operations off my coast would be something I would worry about,â€ said Sen. Marco Rubio, (R-Fla.) who has been among those calling for a tougher stance against Maduro.
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It should be noted that Trump has long insisted there are several options on the table for getting Maduro out of power and replacing him with a non-socialist leader who can begin rebuilding the country and revitalizing its oil-based economy.
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