One of the standout features of SEACOP is its Maritime Intelligence Network, enabling regular information sharing among beneficiary countries. Recently, SEACOP put its connections and real-time intelligence sharing abilities to the test through a pilot project.
From May 15th to 26th, 2023, SEACOP V executed Operation Caribe in the Caribbean region whereby regional coordinators facilitated enhanced information sharing and coordinated rummage activities of Joint Maritime Control Units (JMCUs) on targeted vessels. This operation aimed to intensify law enforcement while evaluating the strength and capacity of SEACOP’s Maritime Intelligence Units (MIUs) in real-time information sharing.
The Caribbean region boasts a robust network of SEACOP-trained and supported Maritime Intelligence Units. With increased maritime traffic during this period, it provided the perfect testing ground for our network’s efficiency. MIUs and JMCUs teams trained by SEACOP in Antigua, Jamaica, Grenada, and the Dominican Republic focused on leisure and commercial traffic, while information sharing extended to key partners such as the US Joint Interagency Task Force South, CARICOM IMPACS Joint Regional Communications Centre, Regional Security System, and Colombia. The SEACOP team also connected with partners in Europe, including our long standing partner MAOC-(N), French customs and Navy, EU Frontex, and Spanish national law enforcement bodies. Real-time information sharing was achieved with our partners in Cape Verde and South Africa, spanning across the Atlantic to the African continent.
This unprecedented wide scope of information sharing on a common platform allowed us to specifically test the MIUs in various areas, including profiling, targeting, target packaging, and standardisation of operational procedures across beneficiary countries. Additionally, all JMCUs conducted boarding operations on vessels of interest in the Dominican Republic and Guyana.
Thanks to the relentless efforts of local authorities supported by SEACOP-trained Maritime Intelligence units, Operation Caribe yielded impressive results:
-Antigua: 70 kgs of cannabis and 4,95 kgs of cocaine seized, leading to the arrest of a notorious trafficker;
- Dominican Republic: 1147 kgs of cocaine seized;
- Grenada: 30 cases of uncustomed alcohol confiscated;
- Jamaica: two abandoned vessels outfitted for trafficking and found in an area known for smuggling;
- Colombia: A staggering 322,1 kilos of cocaine intercepted.
Operation Caribe not only achieved its law enforcement objectives but also served as a testament to the region’s intelligence sharing capabilities. SEACOP shared information with partners as far as Argentina, Cape Verde, and South Africa to support ongoing cases during the exercise. Real-time information exchange was also facilitated with our international partners, MAOC and Colombia, aligning efforts seamlessly.
We extend our heartfelt appreciation to the local authorities for their urgency, professionalism, and partnership, which contributed to the individual successes observed during this crucial test and regional operation. This exercise provided valuable lessons and fostered new partnerships that will shape future developmental activities, including the anticipated SEACOP VI. A special thanks to the Multi-Country Border Security project for their robust support and collaboration in planning and executing Operation Caribe.