By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Shane A. Jackson, USS Kauffman Public Affairs
PACIFIC OCEAN (NNS) -- The guided-missile frigate USS Kauffman (FFG 59) conducted a detainee and evidence exchange with Ecuadorian government representatives off the northern coast of the Galapagos Islands, June 13.
The exchange took place as part of a coordinated effort by Joint Interagency Task Force (JIATF) South, Ecuadorian officials, and Kauffman, as the ship continues its participation in Operation Martillo. The multi-nation effort aims to stem the flow of narcotics and illegal smuggling through littoral waterways of the Caribbean Sea and and along the Pacific coast of Central America.
"Today's event highlights our mutually supportive role in the support of a common shared interest with Ecuador to counter the spread of transnational organized crime and the violence and destabilization it brings," said Cmdr. Michael Concannon, Kauffman's commanding officer. "I believe this event represents a common desire of all American nations - North, Central and South America - to continue to build cooperative maritime security through enhanced interoperability and partnerships built on a common interest to foster stability and security in this region."
In most cases, contraband smugglers caught by the U.S. are prosecuted by whichever U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) district they are caught in. In this situation, the suspects in question were part of a larger case the Ecuadorian government is pursuing, said a USCG chief petty officer.
"The exchange of the material and detainees was very professional and efficient. Additionally, we had a very interesting exchange of information between subject matter experts in the anti-narcotics community," said the USCG chief. "We were very interested to learn some of the tactics and techniques of the criminal organizations. We will take this information and apply it to how we do business in the future in order to increase our interdiction effectiveness."