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Archived - Canadian Forces to participate in counter-narcotics operation

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NR-12.047 - April 10, 2012

OTTAWA – Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) St. John’s,and its ship-borne CH-124 Sea King helicopter, are participating in Operation (Op) Caribbe. It represents the Canadian Force (CF)’s contribution to Op Martillo, a bi-national joint interagency and multinational collaborative effort among western hemisphere and European nations to counter illicit trafficking in the Caribbean Basin.

“The tremendous work that HCMS St. John’s and her crew have done during Operation Caribbe demonstrates Canada’s commitments made during the North American Leaders Summit,” said the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence. “Canada is devoted to contributing more to the security of the hemisphere, and countering criminal activities and other threats in the region. The efforts by our CF members to disrupt illicit trafficking operations in the Caribbean will help to ensure the safety of Canadians and our borders.”

Initiated on January 15, 2012, Op Martillo is coordinated by the Joint Interagency Task Force South (JIATF South), a subordinate command of US Southern Command, which is based in Florida. JIATF South is a US national task force responsible for conducting interagency and international detection and monitoring operations, and facilitating the interdiction of illicit trafficking of drugs, weapons, money, and people.

“This operation is designed to deny transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) air and maritime access to the littoral regions of the Central American isthmus,” said Lieutenant-General Walt Semianiw, Commander of Canada Command, “We are committed to working with our western hemisphere and European partners, and successfully disrupting illicit trafficking operations in the region.”

Throughout the course of this mission, HMCS St. John’s, its helicopter, and crews will provide surveillance, detection, and monitoring of potential vessels of interest during counter-drug surveillance and US Coast Guard led law-enforcement interdiction operations.

“The efforts of HMCS St. John’s and her crew will directly lead to the interruption of some illicit drugs destined for our shores. These are tangible results that will be felt in the communities of Canada and its allies,” said Vice-Admiral Paul Maddison, Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy. “These are outcomes we can all be proud of.”

Every year, under the coordination of JIATF South, partner nations intercept and seize millions of dollars in illicit drugs, and play a major role in suppressing trafficking in international waters and airspace. Op Caribbehelps to strengthen international partnerships, builds partnership capacity, and demonstrates our regional commitment to combatting transnational criminal organizations. The CF has participated in Op Caribbe since November 2006.

This is HMCS St. John’s second participation in Op Caribbe. In 2011, it assisted in the recovery of a sunken self-propelled semi-submersible vehicle carrying drugs, and used its helicopter to medically evacuate an injured US Coast Guard sailor to Honduras.

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