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Drug traffickers benefit from Obama cuts to Coast Guard

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The Obama Administration's budget cuts for the U.S. Coast Guard may be a necessary evil for Americans but it's proving to be a bonanza for Mexican drug cartels, Colombian cocaine traffickers and others involved in the contraband smuggling that's becoming more frequent and more sophisticated, according to police and national security professionals in a Fox News story on Thursday.

"Obama's budget cut request for the Coast Guard weighs the prospect of reducing the Maritime Safety & Security Teams from 12 units to seven as well as retiring nine aircraft and five Coast Guard cutters," predicted an Examiner news story.

Adam Housley of Fox News wrote on Thursday that "drug smugglers are moving some of their operations away from the U.S.-Mexico land border and out into the ocean where it's easier to avoid law enforcement."

According to an Examiner report: "The U.S. Coast Guard suffered drastic [budget] cuts under President Bill Clinton in the 1990's that became part of his so-called 'Peace Dividend.' It practically languished as part of the Transportation Department. Following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 and the creation of the Homeland Security Department, the Coast Guard held a unique position. On one hand, it was folded into the new department with other agencies such as the U.S. Border Patrol, and on the other hand it would serve as part of the Department of Defense if needed."

Now, under President Obama, according to Housley's report:

"Federal spending cuts have forced the Coast Guard to reduce its operating costs by 25 percent. While helping the government reach deficit reduction targets, this is also threatening efforts to reach President [Barack] Obama's goal of intercepting 40 percent of illicit drug shipments by 2015. Over the last several years, the cartels have moved further offshore as their boats have gotten more sophisticated. The area they operate in has tripled in size in just the last year -- and is now roughly the size of Montana."

In an Examiner news story, a dramatic interdiction was described in 2011:

"The U.S. Coast Guard interdicted an estimated 6,700 kilograms of cocaine being transported by a submerged drug smuggling vessel in the Caribbean Sea on Friday, according to a report obtained by the National Association of Chiefs of Police.

"The vessel, a self-propelled semi-submersible vessel, or SPSS, was interdicted by the Coast Guard Cutter USCGC MOHAWK in international waters of the Caribbean some 110 miles off of the coast of Honduras.

"The vessel sank during the interdiction, but the MOHAWK crew captured the four crew members, who were subsequently transferred to Tampa, Fla., for criminal prosecution."

Unfortunately, in order to comply with the Commander in Chief's federal budget cuts, the Coast Guard was forced to reduce its costs by 25 percent in 2013. In addition, the U.S. Navy vessels deployed off the coast of Latin America to assist in drug interdiction were transferred or decommissioned by the Navy. They were never replaced due to budget cuts suffered by the U.S. Navy, according to former drug enforcement agent Timothy Salazar.

"Like it or not, this country is giving drug smugglers and organized crime gangs a free ride on the high seas. And like any organization motivated by profit-making, be assured they will invest in ships, go-fast boats, and even miniature submarines," said Salazar.

But the Coast Guard's commanding officer, Adm. R.J. Papp, does believe his subordinates will continue to accomplish their primary goals. "We will preserve our critical front-line operations in direct support of our Department of Homeland Security mission programs; prevent terrorism and enhance security, secure and manage our borders, and strengthen national resilience. We will make difficult decisions to scale activities, but will be there to answer the call for any maritime domain emergency, to protect America’s safety, and to add to our national security," he said regarding his new budget.

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