Trafficking is SOUTHCOM’s Main Worry

The US military’s overriding concern in Central and South America is the smuggling of drugs and weapons and the human trafficking across the region that generate some $394 billion each year, said Gen. Douglas Fraser, commander of US Southern Command, Thursday. There’re also the money laundering operations that go along with those activities, he said in his remarks at AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium and Technology Exposition in Orlando, Fla. US assistance to Colombia over the past 10 years has resulted in a near shutdown of air smuggling routes for cocaine out of that country, but those trafficking routes have shifted east to Venezuela and other areas, he said. While Fraser said, “I don’t see a military threat to the United States” emanating from the region, persistent transnational threats there require US engagement with partner nations. He also said there “will be an ongoing requirement” for supporting multilateral humanitarian assistance operations. For example, SOUTHCOM employed unarmed Predator remotely piloted aircraft over Haiti after last’s year’s devastating earthquake there to provide overhead imagery for the relief efforts.