French armed forces are used in military operations around the world. A large-scale multinational mission is under way in the West Indies as part of the fight against drug trafficking, a widespread scourge that originated in this region of the world.
The French Navy is involved in these anti-drug trafficking activities and, under the auspices of joint international cooperation, occupies a place that is of the utmost importance to the system in place.
Drug trafficking, a growing threat in the Caribbean
The consumption of narcotics and illegal products is growing on all continents. In Europe in particular, cocaine is on the rise and, after cannabis, it has even been the most widely used drug after cannabis in recent years. In 2006 alone, the authorities found that the old continent would have imported an enormous amount of the order of 300 tons of this drug, ten times more than in the 1990s. This worrying observation is causing every government to consider measures to contain this scourge. From the many observations made over the years, the modus operandi of drug trafficking is identified. The Caribbean area is thus recognized as the main crossing point for cocaine between the areas where it is made and those who use it.
It then becomes strategic to destroy this threat by directing repressive forces into that part of the planet. In order to pursue their illegal occupations, drug traffickers use countless deception maneuvers to regularly transport various quantities of cocaine into the safe harbor. Among the modes of transport preferred by these smugglers, the sea route is by far the most used. Very often they use small fishing boats, merchant ships, fast shuttles, and even yachts to transport their illegal products. These different types of ships usually start on the South American coasts in order to reach North American, African or European countries via the Caribbean zone.
Overseas territories, a necessary passage for drug trafficking
In this part of the world, France, with its overseas presence, occupies a very important place: Guyana and the French West Indies, which are made up of a number of islands such as Guadeloupe, Martinique, St-Barthelemy or St-Martin. As a result, France is playing an important role in the fight against drug trafficking with the aim of protecting the overseas population from the scourges of cocaine and the crime related to it. The interventions in turn make it possible to restrict or even reduce the drug traffickers’ project of transporting their products to the African, American and European continents. These actions at sea in the Caribbean are also carried out together with the administrations and the repression and drug-fighting forces of the neighboring countries. For example, information critical to operations comes from Joint InteragencyTask Force-South or JIATF-S, a multinational cell that specializes in the fight against narcotics in Key West, Florida.
Caribbean: The French Navy on a war basis to combat drug trafficking
Because of the actions of drug traffickers, the Caribbean has become an essential point for drug transit and storage. Not to mention that the consumption of this product has increased dramatically in recent years. The French armed forces mobilized as part of this fight against drug trafficking in the Caribbean must therefore be important in thwarting the harmful intentions of smugglers and other couriers. On the front line, the French Navy is engaging its troops in this long-term struggle in collaboration with OCRTIS or the Central Office for Combating Illicit Drug Trafficking in Fort-de-France. For the two frigates Ventôse and Germinal, these operations consist, for example, of planned or unannounced surveillance missions.
The operational capacities of these two ships of the French Navy rely on the most modern means of communication and meet the expectations in the fight against drug trafficking. Day and night, the tri-colored armed forces can intervene with a rapid intervention helicopter or divisions of naval commandos. Patrolling at sea has therefore become systematic and interventions or interception are becoming more common. This is how the tri-color armed forces deployed in the region got their hands on large quantities of drugs in 2011. In this year alone, thanks to their interventions, a seizure of almost 7.4 tons of cocaine was carried out, a record the merit of which is attributed to the upstream information work and to the know-how of the intervention elements.