U.S. surveillance equipment, training and financial aid intended to target the FARC was redirected by the administration of former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe against political opponents and Supreme Court justices, reports The Washington Post.
The Colombian intelligence agency responsible, the Department of Administrative Security (DAS), is described as a “criminal enterprise” in the Post story. More than a dozen former agents are on trial, and six others have admitted to crimes. Uribe himself is under investigation by the legislature. Prosecuters believe Uribe sought to “neutralize” the Supreme Court for investigating links between the Uribe government and drug-trafficking paramilitary groups.
The DAS is believed to have used “U.S.-supplied computers, wiretapping devices, cameras and mobile phone interception systems, as well as rent for safe houses and petty cash for gasoline.”
Ollanta Humala, Peru’s new president, is restructuring the country’s anti-drug strategy to reflect counter-insurgency tactics applied by the Colombian military against the FARC, writes Geoffrey Ramsey in the Christian Science Monitor. The Peruvian government has had limited success in confronting Shining Path militants. The Maoist fighters are also relatively small compared to the FARC, 300 fighters compared to around 10,000 FARC militants, which prevents them from wielding a comparable level of influence. “Because of this, it is not clear that a security strategy based on Colombia’s experience can be applied in the Peruvian case,” Ramsey writes.
The Peruvian military will reportedly double the number of men assigned to military intelligence: two battalions on top of an currently-active brigade of two existing battalions.
Trinidad and Tobago
A state of emergency was declared Sunday in the Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago after 11 people were killed over the weekend. The killings are likely related to drug trafficking. The emergency powers will give the military broad search and arrest powers and will last for two weeks.
The country is a popular transit route for drugs coming from Venezuela due to the absence of major hurricanes, according to Elyssa Pachico at InSight. Trinidadian authorities are also said to be ill-equipped to interdict drug smugglers. Interdiction rates have also fallen sharply in recent years.
Seventeen nations including the United States are defending the Panama Canal against an organized terrorist attack, simulated of course during the annual Fuerzas Aliadas PANAMAX 2011 exercise this week. The frigate USS Thach is committed to the exercise, which has expanded since the first attempt in 2003 to include anti-drug operations and direct defense of the canal. Land-based operations are also being conducted from U.S. Army South headquarters at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas.
“It’s always good to train with our partner nations when it comes to the security of the Panama canal, simulating both blue water and littoral situations,” Navy Commander Robert Klaszky said. “We’ll be able to learn how each nation operates on its own, and as a collective unit.”