SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras, –
Joint Task Force-Bravo, together with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, assisted Belize authorities in a successful marijuana eradication operation April 8-11 throughout the Northern Tier of Belize.
The operations resulted in the Belizean government destroying 16 fields, 61,000 illicit plants, 330 pounds of compressed marijuana and 22 pounds of marijuana seeds; for an initial estimate of $12.5 million U.S. dollars.
Joint Task Force-Bravo provided the aviation support, on-call casualty evacuation and the Jacob's ladder familiarization support to 55 Belize Defense Forces personnel.
"Jacob's ladder, or caving ladder, operations were used in areas where the landing zone could potentially harm the aircraft," said Army Staff Sgt. Glen Haynie, Bravo Company Standardization instructor. "It allowed us to get troops down and up without landing and still accomplish the mission."
The assets and expertise used to work jointly with the Belizean government allowed previously unseen levels of interdiction.
"Working with our partners in Belize, we were able to provide support consisting of a U.S. Army CH-47 Chinook and UH-60 Blackhawk with 10 crewmembers from 1st Battalion, 228th Aviation Regiment," said U.S. Army Capt. Beau Carroll, CH-47 Company commander and Air Mission commander for the Belize counter drug mission. "By integrating air operations, the Belizean government eradicated more illicit crops in 48 hours than the previous two years combined when interdiction efforts consisted strictly of ground assets."
In addition to the interdiction successes, the combined efforts of the Belizean government and JTF-B operators allowed the identification of at least six more target locations for future prosecution by supported agencies.
"Engaging in the drug interdiction mission and working with international agencies is a unique and rewarding experience," Carroll said. "Being able to fly operations with such an effective end result is why we became pilots. Thanks to this operation, we stopped the transit of $12.5 million worth of marijuana from the Caribbean and Central America into the United States."
The successful operation highlighted JTF-B's ability to conduct and support regional combined and interagency operations while building regional partnered nations' capacity for combating drug trafficking in Central America.