US Officials Collaborate with Belize to Combat Transnational Crime Surge

US Officials Collaborate with Belize to Combat Transnational Crime Surge

One of the main areas of focus during the delegation’s visit was transnational crime in the region. Belize is known as a transit point for narcotics heading to North America, but recently the country has witnessed an uptick in activities related to the drug trade. Recently, the local authorities found a make-shift cocaine laboratory in the south, and have upped their efforts in thwarting the seeming infiltration of Mexican Narcos in the north.  Deputy Assistant Security of Defense for the Western Hemisphere Affairs, Dan Erikson explained that the US Government is cognizant of the increase and met with personnel from Belize’s security forces to discuss efforts to counter-narcotics. 

Dan Erickson, Deputy Assistant, Security of Defense for the Western Hemisphere Affairs: “The challenge posed by transnational criminal organizations affects Belize, it affects the United States, of course it has a broader regional dynamic as well throughout Central America. There are several steps that we are taking and can take. I referenced previously in my remarks the work that we’re doing with the Joint Intelligence Operations Center which is really to provide much better awareness for Belize of these air tracks that you reference so that the country’s authorities can have a sense of what is coming in and going out of the country in terms of over flights. With respect to the border, you’re absolutely right. Border security is a key concern that you have essentially on the western side of Belize a border where much of it’s jungle, as you know. Parts of it are impassable but there is, I think, an increasing challenge that’s posed by trafficking in that area. And so we have discussed with Belize the government’s plans and strategies to address that and to see what more the Department of Defense could potentially do to support. Of course when you look at border security and the effort to ensure that rule of law is upheld with respect to transnational organized crime a lot of that burden also falls on the domestic law enforcement agencies and not necessarily on the military, although there are ways that we can work together on that. And then looking forward I think that there’s also some very positive initiatives that are taking place in terms of regional collaboration in the Caribbean at large to try to counter the challenges posed by transnational organized crime.”

While the US is working to counter the drug trade in Central and South America, it also hopes to reduce the demand for narcotics at home. Erikson weighed in on the role that the US plays in fueling the demand for narcotics and how it is working to tackle the issue. 

Dan Erickson, Deputy Assistant, Security of Defense for the Western Hemisphere Affairs: “So this is a shared challenge and the United States recognizes the response way that we have as well in terms of addressing the challenge. There’s a lot of work being done within the United States to, for example, address demand reduction which is an important part of the equation. But I also think that it means that all of the governments in the region are incumbent to work together both in terms of sharing information, law enforcement cooperation and ensuring that the challenge posed by transnational criminal organizations can be addressed and reduced over time.”

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