Pushing or Overstepping? Legal Boundaries in the Fight Against Maritime Drug Smuggling Part 1

CIMSEC – Every day, U.S. Coast Guard cutters patrol the eastern Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea for drug smuggling vessels, seizing more cocaine than all other American law enforcement agencies combined. Federal prosecutors then bring charges against the detained smugglers under a controversial and confusing legal regime. By analyzing the lifecycle of a case – from interdiction to detention to prosecution – this two-part article explores (1) the extraterritorial jurisdiction established by the Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Act (MDLEA); (2) the practice of detaining suspected smugglers aboard Coast Guard cutters for weeks without formal arrest; and (3) the interaction between intelligence gathering and the trial penalty. In each of these instances, a different branch of the federal government is pushing against – if not overstepping – legal constraints in order to empower the Coast Guard in the fight against maritime drug smuggling. This is a fragile system, however, and should one of these government branches become squeamish, the whole apparatus could collapse.

Adjusting Course

USNI Blog – The U.S. Coast Guard, the world’s ocean-beat cop, is well-suited for the diplomatic-military role required to curtail China’s bullying in the South China Sea, while still retaining its reputational goodwill in disputed regions. The Coast Guard can act as diplomatic warfighters, offering a gloved hand (that can hold brass knuckles.) With a series of minor course adjustments, the Coast Guard can remain relevant in ocean governance and security, and may yet thwart the demise of its cuttermen and its fleet.

Modern-Day Beach Patrol: Add Coastal Defense Cruise Missiles to the Coast Guard’s Inventory

USNI Blog – The Coast Guard has stood the watch along U.S. coasts since the earliest days of the Revenue Cutter Service, protecting against myriad threats large and small. As the current National Security Strategy directs the U.S. military to refocus on countering peer and near-peer threats, the time is ripe for the Coast Guard to field coastal defense cruise missiles (CDCM) to both defend the homeland and prevail in a war at sea.

Cybersecurity at Port Facilities: Making Rules Requires Rulemaking

CIMSEC – In February 2020, the U.S. Coast Guard published guidelines for port facilities to address cybersecurity threats. The new guidelines were needed, but they are not enough. The U.S. Coast Guard should, to carry out its legal duty to safeguard the maritime transportation system, energize the domestic rulemaking process to adopt uniform and enforceable cybersecurity rules for maritime facilities.

Unusually Large Narco Submarine May Be New Challenge For Coast Guard

Forbes – The U.S. Coast Guard and Navy have faced an array of so-called narco submarines, purpose built for smuggling cocaine, for the last fifteen years. These are constantly evolving. Now a super-sized narco submarine has been discovered in the Colombian jungle. It represents another evolution of the threat facing U.S. Southern Command’s (SOUTHCOM) Enhanced Counter-Narcotics Operations. The U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Navy, partner navies and law enforcement are determined to stop these vessels, but it is very challenging because they are designed to get through.

(Thanks to Alain)

Make Maritime Stability Operations A Core US Coast Guard Mission Focus

CIMSEC – The following provides a re-introduction to Maritime Stability Operations, its preeminence amid the multitude of modern maritime challenges, along with why the Coast Guard — in coordination with the U.S. Department of State — must not only be the lead implementing agency but make maritime stability operations its core or priority future mission focus.