What do the Mexican border wall, Middle East peace, and a significant victory in the war on drugs all have in common? They’re things President Donald Trump has achieved that were previously considered impossible.
According to the Washington Examiner, Trump has succeeded in getting 74,000 pounds of marijuana and 216 metric tons of cocaine off American streets through coordinated counternarcotics enforcement. Those efforts also deprive drug lords in places like Venezuela from earning the $5.7 billion in illicit revenue.
The Trump administration renewed a crackdown on the drug trade that filters through the waters off the coast of Miami. The area encompasses 42 million square miles of ocean territory that serves as a conduit for narcotics into the U.S. from other nations.
With the COVID-19 pandemic in March came a renewed challenge to the area. Joint Interagency Task Force South’s Strategic Initiatives Group Chief Lt. Col. Andrew Ajamian described it to the Examiner as a “roller coaster up and down,” which led Trump to ramp up efforts in the area beginning in April.
Trump said the efforts would protect Americans from the “deadly scourge of illegal narcotics” in a White House briefing April 1. “We must not let the drug cartels exploit the pandemic to threaten American lives,” he said, continuing:
In cooperation with the 22 partner nations, U.S. Southern Command will increase surveillance, disruption, and seizures of drug shipments and provide additional support for eradication efforts which are going on right now at a record pace. We’re deploying additional Navy destroyers, combat ships, aircraft, and helicopters; Coast Guard cutters; and Air Force surveillance aircraft, doubling our capabilities in the region.
Cartels, criminals, and other malign actors may try to exploit this time of crisis to threaten Americans.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) April 1, 2020
The JITF-South consists of 500 civilian-military working in conjunction with 16 other government agencies, the U.S. Coast Guard and foreign nations to blanket the area with law enforcement. In 2019, the task force seized 280 metric tons of cocaine — a number that could be surpassed by the end of 2020.
“In Key West, we are the tip of the spear working with international [and] interagency partners to prevent the flow of drugs,” Ajamian also told the Examiner. “Drugs are a serious threat to this country, and just as much, they’re a threat to our neighbors and partners to the South,” he said, citing the 2018 figure of 15,000 Americans dead from cocaine.
He also stated that money earned in the drug trade fuels crime and instability in the source nations. It also packs American cities with migrants and U.S. prisons with drug offenders. “Every day where a boat is being stopped and product seized, that’s a tactical action,” Ajamin said. “The cumulative effects of those tactical actions over and over again really are enhancing the security of the United States and, frankly, its health.”
For decades, Democrats have railed against the war on drugs for its expense and supposed ineffectiveness in keeping narcotics out of the U.S. However, just like Trump’s other victories at home and abroad, he has achieved what was previously unachievable.