As awareness increases along the border of the U.S., smugglers have resorted to seafaring methods in order to transport drugs. The U.S. Coast Guard, which patrols 95,000 miles of coastline, has continually upheld the responsibility of keeping a watchful eye over the waters. However, recent budget cuts have made this responsibility challenging.
In 2013, the Coast Guard reduced operating costs to meet federal budget guidelines. Decreasing manpower and limiting the resources of the Coast Guard has made the waters more vulnerable to potential threats.
According to Adm. Robert Papp of the Coast Guard, “Our interdictions are down 30 percent from the year before, when we had more assets out there, so that’s an indicator to me that as soon as we start pulling assets away, they’re running more drugs and they’re getting through. The land border is a much simpler border to defend. You can put up fences. You can put people out there. But it’s a finite area. You know where your land starts and where it ends. When you go out into the maritime, it’s huge.”
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— U.S. Coast Guard (@uscoastguard) September 24, 2013
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Cmdr. Chris German echoed the sentiments expressed by Papp. “We’ve had to cut back in hours and funding, and cut back on resources on the water. The Coast Guard’s aircraft and ships have cut back on fuel, so every hour we’re not in the air or on the water, it does leave a gap.”
Members of the Coast Guard are not only preoccupied with protecting the borders and assisting individuals who may succumb to maritime dangers, but also must be prepared to participate in safety initiatives relating to regional weather conditions.
Image via Wikimedia Commons and courtesy of Robert Green