Maloney: Coast Guard Drug Interdiction Rate is Too Low

Published Jun 4, 2019 7:05 PM by The Maritime Executive

U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, led a hearing on Western Hemisphere drug interdictions and the importance of maintaining Coast Guard operations on Tuesday.

In 2017, the Coast Guard interdicted over 223.8 metric tons of cocaine, over 31,000 pounds of marijuana, and 6 kilograms of heroin and other opiates, and 168 kilograms of methamphetamines. Accumulatively, the Coast Guard interdicted an estimated $6.6 billion of drugs throughout the entire year.

“Through partnerships with other federal agencies and international allies our Coasties interrupt and intercept drug cartel operations, interdicting more cocaine than all other federal agencies combined,” said Maloney. “Notwithstanding its performance, the Coast Guard remains under-resourced and is asked to do more with less, and regrettably, their work in drug interdiction is no different.

“For example, the Service’s aged fleet of legacy cutters can only muster an interdiction rate of roughly six percent of known illegal drug movements (due to unexpected maintenance). If the Coast Guard had a recapitalized fleet of new offshore cutters on-hand, however, they could interdict 20 percent to 30 percent of known drug movement in the Transit Zone.”

The government is putting the Coast Guard in a tough spot, he says. “We rely on them to keep drugs out of our country, but then short them of the resources they need to do their job. Congress needs to step up and increase Coast Guard funding if we’re serious about stopping the flow of illicit drugs into our country,” said Maloney.