They’re Watching

Since January, US government surveillance aircraft have flown more than 224 missions out of Forward Operating Location Manta, Ecuador, resulting in 75 arrests and the capture of 53 metric tons of cocaine worth about $1.052 billion and 83 pounds of heroin with a street value of more than $3.3 million. In 2007, flying operations out of FOL Manta, operated by the 478th Expeditionary Operations Squadron, one of four Air Forces Southern operating locations, led to the seizure of more than 208 metric tons of cocaine worth more than $4.2 billion. FOL Manta has been an important hub for US counternarcotics operations in the Eastern Pacific. Adm. Thad Allen, US Coast Guard Commandant, visited the site April 3. His service plays a leading role in the US government’s efforts to curb narcotics trafficking. The United States’ 10-year lease to FOL Manta expires in November 2009, and the Ecuadorian government is not expected to renew it. (Includes FOL Manta report by Capt. Ashley Norris)