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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Key West, Fla.—Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano today visited U.S. Coast Guard Sector Key West to tour operations, meet with Coast Guard personnel, and receive a briefing on maritime security operations at the Joint Interagency Task Force (JIATF)-South—the U.S. Southern Command entity that coordinates integrated interagency counter drug operations.
“Maritime security is critical to interdicting drugs and other threats before they reach our shores,” said Secretary Napolitano. “The men and women of the Coast Guard play a vital role in preventing illegal maritime migration, combating illegal drug trafficking and protecting our nation’s maritime borders.”
As an integral part of the Department of Homeland Security’s Southern Border strategy, the Coast Guard continues to target maritime shipments to stop drugs before they reach overland routes and fuel drug trafficking crime—removing nearly 92 metric tons of cocaine in fiscal year 2010, and more than 10.3 metric tons of cocaine in 2011 as of Jan. 31.
During her visit, Secretary Napolitano was joined by Rear Admiral William Baumgartner, Seventh Coast Guard District Commander and Director of the Homeland Security Task Force Southeast, and Coast Guard Sector Key West Commander Captain Pat DeQuattro.
The Seventh Coast Guard District is responsible for all Coast Guard operations in South Carolina, Georgia, the Florida Peninsula and the entire Caribbean basin—including eight of the nation’s largest container ports and the three largest multi-day cruise ports in the world.
During her briefing at the JIATF-South—which is responsible for the detection of suspected air and maritime drug activity in the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and the eastern Pacific—Secretary Napolitano also met with JIATF-South Director, Coast Guard Rear Admiral Daniel Lloyd. In total, thirty eight DHS personnel—representing the Coast Guard, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement—are currently deployed to the JIATF-South to collaborate with the Department of Defense and other federal partners in the collection, processing and dissemination of counter drug information to our interagency and international partners.
In Florida in 2010, the Coast Guard saved 555 lives; assisted 3,544 people; saved $10.5 million in property; and interdicted $930 million in illegal narcotics.