President Donald Trump on Thursday authorized the Pentagon to call select armed forces reservists to active duty as part of a counternarcotics operation announced early this month.
In an executive order, the president ordered the secretary of defense to call up to 200 personnel from the reserve at a time to serve as part of the military’s enhanced operation against drug cartels in the eastern Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. The executive order limited the term of service to one year.
The Navy has already deployed warships to the eastern Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea as early as April 1 as part of an operation to counter drug cartels, which, according to U.S. intelligence, are actively planning to exploit the CCP virus pandemic to smuggle more drugs into the United States.
The intelligence community has long been aware of the drug cartels’ naval routes in the eastern Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, but authorities have been short on resources to interdict all of the drug traffic heading to the United States. Last year, the United States seized 280 metric tons of drugs in the area.
The United States is in possession of intelligence showing that the cartels are looking to exploit the crisis to smuggle more drugs into the country, according to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley.
The enhanced mission has been months in the making. The formal launch on April 1 came days after the Justice Department indicted Nicholas Maduro, Venezuela’s illegitimate socialist dictator, and members of his inner circle and military. They are accused of leading a narcoterrorist conspiracy responsible for smuggling up to 250 metric tons of cocaine a year into the United States—about half of it by sea.
“If I was just indicted for drug trafficking by the United States with a $15 million reward for my capture, having the U.S. Navy conducting anti-drug operations off my coast would be something I would worry about,” Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican who has been among those calling for a tougher stance against Maduro, said earlier this month.
The Trump administration has long insisted that all options are on the table for removing Maduro, including military ones. Still, there’s no indication that any sort of U.S. invasion is being planned.
Rather, the deployment of ships fits with a longstanding call by the U.S. Southern Command for additional assets to combat narcotics and other security threats in the hemisphere.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
From The Epoch Times