Here’s a Midrats episode that ought to prove interesting as we talk about that other long-term war we’ve been fighting – the “War Against Drugs.”

Join us at 5pm Sunday for Episode 39 The Coast Guard and Counter Narcotics on 10/3/2010 for a discussion of :

. . . the U.S. Coast Guard’s role in defending the USA from the flow of illegal drugs

. Their guest will be CDR E. A. Westfall, CDR, USCG, Commanding Officer of the USCGC ESCANABA (WMEC 907).

By way of background, a report on some of what Escanaba’s crew has been up to at this Navy Times article Coast Guard boarding team engages in firefight. Really, though, expect the discussion to be broader than one incident. After all, from chasing “go fasts” to interdicting drug submarines to finding drug stashes on merchant ships, the Coast Guard has been involved in this fight a long time.

And they have that cool racing stripe.
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Posted by Mark Tempest in Coast Guard, Maritime Security, Podcasts

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  • Byron

    They’ve been at it since the days of Prohibition when they chased my grandfather through the swamps of the Atchafalya 😉

  • Derrick

    Americans shouldn’t be buying illegal narcotics. No demand for narcotics makes the coast guard’s job a lot easier, and saves a lot of taxpayer dollars too.

    Demand is the problem. Not supply. Where there is demand, there will be supply.

  • Chuck Hill

    My comment is here. It’s a way to cut demand at the wholesale level rather than the retail level.

  • Well, until the time we legalize drugs, we have a lot of Coast Guardsmen, Customs and other agents out there on an increasingly violent front line.

    They are not the ones making the policy but onto them falls the burden of enforcing the laws we have.

  • Chuck Hill

    Been there done that.

  • Matt Yankee

    There is a demand for WMDs also…does that mean we should just throw up our arms and expect an attack. I agree the analogy of prohibition is correct but where do you draw the line? Weed, Cocaine, Meth, illegal migrants, WMD’s and money and arms going the opposite direction all very important problems.

    Last week a man was shot in the head and killed by Mexican drug terrorists with his wife on the back seat…they are still looking for his body on Falcon Lake on the Texas/Mexico border. In my opinion the southern border needs crack troops and we need to be able to cross the border in pursuit. American citizens are being killed as a result of the lack of security presence. If you legalize pot there will still be threats coming from the south for other commodities which pose as much or more of a threat.

    When our leaders ignore the problem (both sides) it grows and grows and now the whole country of Mexico is staring at collapse. We can either impose a strict border or we can face the consequence of a failed state on our southern border which might require a much more robust intervention in the future. Any solution that fails to secure the border for the future is NO solution at all. It would also help if the powers that be would stop blaming our second amendment and give the Mexicans a second amendment ability to own and bear arms for the sake of their own protection. The Mexican govt is obviosly not doing it…put the security of the people in their own hands.

  • Chuck Hill

    I didn’t suggest giving up, I suggest a change of strategy to concentrate on hitting the distribution network, where I think it is most vulnerable. We don’t have unlimited resources, but I think we can make better choices about where to spend our money in this struggle.

  • Derrick

    I think the easiest way is to increase the penalty for those convicted of illegal substance abuse, especially for recreational purposes. They are financing Al Qaeda and should face a punishment in line with that of treason…albeit a more lenient punishment. They should also be required to pay fines to reimburse the DoD and Coast Guard for their increased operational costs incurred from their drug interdiction duties.

  • Matt Yankee

    If you destroy the distribution network for drugs (BIG IF) you will still have a wide open border. Miltarize the border and you restrict all commodities whether it’s Pot or WMDs or cash and arms going the opposite direction. We need a full spectrum solution not a partial patch. We project weakness by ignoring the southern border when it is out of control. Why do you think the drug cartels are crossing the border armed with fully automatic weapons? They know they will out gun our border patrol which is not designed for regular combat and their success is the ultimate proof of our failure to secure the border.

    I would suggest citizens who care go and visit any of the southern border and you will quickly get the true sense of the Wild West that has returned to this region in the last few yrs. I live in South Texas and know very well the realities on the ground. The border is out of sight and out of mind for much of the rest of the country. Come see for yourself, I could take you to a large ranch with unbelievabel stories as a result of this insane policy of an unlocked, wide open, front door with a sign saying “kick me” which IS our southern border. And if for no other reason simple security for US citizens should be enough of a priority for us to fully protect the border.

  • Matt Yankee

    Chuck, I understand your argument and would’ve agreed with you 5 yrs ago. Unfortunately and with all due respect it is more theory than practical.

    Have you been to the border in the last few yrs.?

  • Matt Yankee

    It is interesting that we constantly try to take the easy way out of conflict… We try to secure the border by not being there, we try to stop piracy by not being there, we try to stop Al Qaeda in Pakistan by not being there. ALL failures. Just like Gen. Lemay tried to conquer Germany from 30,000 ft. it just doesn’t work…we have to be on the ground to have a lasting, significant success.

    The single best solution to the drug war is to focus on the kids…make drug testing in all levels of public schooling mandatory and this alone will have a huge impact. We should take away the rights of our children to use drugs and retain the right to bear arms to protect ourselves. Stop listening to Mexico telling us to get rid of our 2nd amendmant for their national interest. What percentage of the drugs are consumed by 23 yr olds and under? I suggest by far the majority. Who really cares if they are forced to pee in a cup once a month?

    Sorry for the tirade…just passionate on this one.

  • Derrick

    I think mandatory testing in schools is a great idea. Cheaper than increased coast guard operations.

  • Chuck Hill

    Clearly we need to do something different. I also hate that we go into things and do them in a “half-assed” fashion. As Yoda would say, “Do or do not…there is not try”

    Much of the lawlessness at the border is because of drug money although there are certainly other things going on. Still think the border would benefit from an aggressive effort to attack the distribution system locally by concentrating on the retail distributors.

    On the other hand the drug problem cannot be solved by sealing the border with Mexico. The Coast Guard estimates they are only getting 15% of the cocaine from noncommercial vessels in a maritime transit zone. For the cartels, that is a more than acceptable loss rate. I think we would have to push it well above 50% before we would could convince them to stop trying.

  • Derrick

    Or we convince the addicts within North America to stop using illegal drugs. That would really convince the cartels to stop trying.

  • Matt Yankee

    No single solution is going to “solve” the drug problem and not even the best 100 solutions will competely do the job. But we can do a whole lot better.

    The majority of the illegal drugs enter the US through the southern border. Dozens of men carrying bundles of you name it and some armed, come across that border at a time. I am not saying seal the border with no crossings…I am saying we should be enforcing the areas in between the legal crossings…anyone would be shocked by the scope of the illegal crossings. No border will be 100% secure but we have the opposite of that with huge, blatant, ignored, and illegal crossings.

  • Bill Aston

    All such ideas need political support from within the communities. Funding must be addressed and assured. Any big change will rattle and possibly break many Tea Cups. The border might be properly policed with an Infantry Brigade rotated from within the entire US Army. Call it training. Bonus would be some assurance that bad guys from mid=east aren’t walking across with impunity. Lots of good ideas. IMHO no single one will get the job done. First there must be determined leadership coupled with a realization that the present situation is just not acceptable.

  • Matt Yankee

    There are many fragile tea cups…the locals will not want outsiders telling them what to do (and patrolling through their land…the border patrol is notorious for setting fires to fields with their catalytic converters) and the D.C. folks would rather have the money and the votes.

    Maybe I need to move to Australia…it’s a big island, ain’t it? LOL

  • Chuck Hill

    Matt Yankee Said, “No single solution is going to “solve” the drug problem and not even the best 100 solutions will competely do the job. But we can do a whole lot better.”

    A lot of the problem is that we are trying “100 solutions” and doing none of them particularly well, resulting in little more than annoying all the parts of the drug distribution network but eliminating no particular link.

    No matter how the product is imported or produced, it has to go through the dealer on the street. The dealer is the most exposed and the most visible element in the distribution chain and the participant upon whom we can impose the most risk for the smallest reward. That makes the dealer the right place to concentrate our efforts.

  • Byron

    You don’t kill a snake by cutting off it’s tail…

  • Chuck Hill

    In the case of the cartels the head is the most easily and readily replaceable part. Everyone wants that job.

  • Derrick

    I still think we should focus on the demand, and not the supply. And perhaps instead of imprisoning addicts who use the narcotics illegally, just give them a ticket and have them pay a fine upwards of $10000 USD. That should help pay down the deficit a little.

  • Derrick

    And if the addicts don’t have the funds available (which will probably almost always be the case), they can make it up with community service, at minimum wage, in their off hours.

  • Chuck Hill

    Derrick, I would not disagree with your handling of drug users.

    There is a demand and supply side to every link in the supply chain. Getting rid of the retail marketing people at the local level eliminates demand all the way up the supply chain.

  • Matt Yankee

    Chuck I don’t understand, exactly how are the dealers going to be identified?

    I strogly suspect the dealers span the full spectrum of types of individuals all seeking profit and dealing mostly in cash. Drug dealers do not fit a cookie cutter profile. The more successful ones moving the bulk of the product might even be living in the best side of town and have a low profile…very hard to know for certain.

    Even if they were identified they would have to be rounded up within a short period of time so as to cause a real break in the chain which is how many thousands of operations? Law enforcement does not have the capability to surge forces to make these arrests all over the map but the military does have the ability to surge forces to the border.

    If all the dealers had to go to a geographic choke point wouldn’t that be where to wait for them? Isn’t that place the border?

    Chuck, you referred earlier to the Coast Guard intercepting only 15% of the vessels being used for transport. It is my understanding the smaller vessels are delivering the product to the Mexican coast where it is then taken over the border by land (DEA website).

    The majority of the drugs come over land…the border is the choke point and thus the “head”. And it should be being protected regardless so it is good policy to focus on the border…and again the kids are going to need to pee in a cup…LOL.

    I would rather give everyone drug tests than arrest and imprison otherwise honest people. I believe your average Joe will behave much differently if he knows he’s being watched. It’s the old trust but verify principle. Banks enforce an active overwatch of their employees which has real positive effects as opposed to waiting till a bank can’t pay back people’s deposits and then closing the bank and sending the employees to prison. Most people are honest but they are even more honest when they know there is someone that is watching them. Our kids need this and the border needs this. How would you expect your kids to turn out if you believed every word they said over a telephone and never checked on them once? Don’t tell me your kids are perfect either…LOL.