WASHINGTON —For the first time, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Air and Marine Operations (AMO) conducted a maritime enforcement training for Trinidad and Tobago Customs and Excise (TTCE) officers. A decade has passed since TTCE officers have received any formal marine training from the United States.
The two nations determined that a joint interagency training was necessary to enhance the capability to interdict, stop, and arrest those that are smuggling a wide variety of illegal importations into Trinidad.
Both agencies have similar missions in the maritime domain. With AMO serving as the nation’s experts in airborne and maritime law enforcement, the instruction focused on some of the best practices and lessons learned from detection, interception, interdiction, and boardings.
Four specialized Marine Interdiction Agents from various locations throughout the United States provided the training to give a better understanding of tactics and authority.
“The Maritime Capacity Building Initiative for Trinidad involved sound training principles which resulted in their increased vigilance and domain awareness. They now have some new tactics in their fight to better protect their maritime border,” said lead instructor Alex Rodriguez, Marine Interdiction Agent with AMO. “The Customs and Excise officers of the Marine Interdiction Unit demonstrated professionalism, motivation, and an esprit de corps only found in tightly knit units. The hospitality of the officers and senior leadership was truly memorable, and it is great to know that the Customs and Excise brotherhood is alive and well”.
The training, given to 19 Trinidadian law enforcement officers, lasted two weeks in September in the town of Chaguaramas, Trinidad, a mere 8-mile boat ride from the country of Venezuela.
After the full course, the Trinidad and Tobago Customs and Excise Marine Interdiction Unit had a full understanding of methods and tactics that will be applied to their ever-growing regional marine threat. Some tactics included vessel pursuit and interception, post-boarding procedures, arrests, and firearms.
"The United States remains a strong friend and partner to the government of Trinidad and Tobago. [We] share similar visions in the fight against smuggling illegal goods across our borders,” said Lucia Foglia, CBP International Officer. “This collaboration has helped us to successfully join operations and facilitation on trade."
AMO is a federal law enforcement organization dedicated to serving and protecting the American people through advanced aeronautical and maritime capabilities. AMO interdicts unlawful people and cargo approaching U.S. borders, investigates criminal networks and provides domain awareness in the air and maritime environments, and responds to contingencies and national taskings. With approximately 1,800 federal agents and mission support personnel, 240 aircraft and 300 marine vessels operating throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands, AMO serves as the nation’s experts in airborne and maritime law enforcement.
In Fiscal Year 2018, AMO enforcement actions resulted in the approximate seizure or disruption of 283,503 pounds of cocaine; 301,553 pounds of marijuana; 180,444 pounds of methamphetamine; 872 weapons and $34.2 million. AMO enforcement actions also facilitated 2,373 arrests and 47,744 apprehensions of illegal aliens.