The Latest in the Drug War: Operation Martillo

Via Just the Facts:  Operation Martillo: What is it?

Since January 2012, the United States, in partnership with various European and Latin American nations, has been conducting Operation Martillo (Martillo = Hammer), a multi-national, interagency and joint military operation to combat aerial and maritime drug trafficking off Central America’s coasts. It began in January 2012 and has no end date, though its end is believed to be a few months away.

The linked fact sheet has a good bit of information, as well as a map showing the current flows of cocaine into the US market.

One thing to watch, as is often the case in this situations:  does this policy lead to substantially less drugs in the US, or does it simply re-route the drugs via other pathways and means?  The multi-decade evidence would suggest that a temporary disruption of flows will result followed by significant adaptation by traffickers.

But, of course, when everything looks like a  clavo, the only tool you pull out is a martillo.

FILED UNDER: Borders and Immigration, National Security, US Politics, ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Rob in CT says:

    But, of course, when everything looks like a clavo, the only tool you pull out is a martillo

    Well played, sir.

    This is a bit like a “surge” in a clearly messed up war. Or bringing in a new general to apply some new strategy with a neat acronym (“COIN”) to take over direction of a clearly messed up war.

    There are situations in which the problem isn’t tactics. It’s the mission itself. In this case, we basically declared “war” on human nature.

    We can seek to mitigate the impact of human weaknesses for things like drugs, but what could be more utopian than to imagine one can create a society free of them? A society free of… dare I say sin?

    I’ll stop now before I start quoting Serenity.

  2. Tsar Nicholas says:

    By the same tokens, however:

    The Latest in the War on Poverty: Detroit

    Or how about this one:

    The Latest in the War on Lack of Diversity in the Workplace: Black Unemployment (13.8%) vs. White Unemployment (6.8%)

    Or this:

    The Latest in the War Against High Rents: New York City

    Or this:

    The Latest in the War Against Gun Violence: Detroit, Chicago, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Los Angeles, etc., etc.

    One of these days the airheaded left will connect those obvious dots. Or not.

    In any event, no quagmire in history can match LBJ’s and the Dems’/left’s never ending “War on Poverty,” but apparently with the latest steps in the so-called Drug War Team Obama is hell bent upon making the effort. Sad but not unexpected.

  3. @Tsar Nicholas: Yes, declaring “war” on things is not too smart, for a variety of reasons.

    However, everything is not some left-right contest (speaking of everything looking like a nail).

    The success, failure, or whatever of the “war on poverty” really has nothing to do, one way or another, with the war on drugs.

  4. Shorter Tsar: Let me take this opportunity to beat my favorite dead horse, the Left of my youth.

    I mean, I get it. Riffing on various “War On _____” jokes, but LBJ? No one under 50 has a single memory of LBJ’s presidency. You’re reaching, man, and if you’re going to do that, might as well have gone for the ole “You know who else declared war on something? Hitler.”

    You know you’re a hack when, in a discussion about the drug war, you skip over Nixon to get to LBJ….

    Side note: Has anyone read Bowden’s “Killing Pablo?”

  5. Al says:

    @James Pearce (Formerly Known as Herb):

    I have but it was a long while back. I’ve also got
    At the Devil’s Table
    in my backlog and Dobyns’ No Angel is another good example of how the War on Drugs isn’t working.

  6. Mike says:

    We go to such lengths and costs to stop drugs off the coast of S. America but yet we occupy Afghanistan where most of the world’s heroin is produced. Put the money into treatment.

  7. @Al:

    I have but it was a long while back.

    I just polished it off a few weeks ago.

    It’s been 20 years since Escobar was killed, Something tells me that another “multi-national, interagency joint military operation” isn’t going to work.