'Last week, Seth Wessler wrote a story for the New York Times, in which he described “terror on the high seas”: an expansion of the maritime war on drugs, the U.S. Coast Guard is operating a fleet of secret floating prisions in the Pacific Ocean. Coined “floating Guantanamos”, Coast Guard cutters have been deployed as far as 3,000 miles miles away from the nearest U.S. port, to international waters from Central America to South America in a bid to bust drug smugglers.
Wessler writes about a number of men who were detained by the U.S. Coast Guard and imprisoned on the cutters for weeks or months at a time. The practice of capturing smugglers and turning them back to their governments changed in 2012, when the Defense’s Southern Command, tasked with leading the war on drugs in the Americas, launched a multinational military campaign called Operation Martillo, or “hammer.” Post 2012, Coast Guard cutters cruise around the Pacific picking up smugglers who will then be admitted to U.S. courts.
According to Wessler, the U.S. Coast Guard never intended to operate floating prisions, but thanks to U.S. marintime law, drug smuggling in international waters is considered a crime against the U.S (even if there is no proof), making the possibility of floating prisions legal. Once detained, conditions for the smugglers are quite rough, often kept on US vessels for weeks or months on end– chained to anything, usually on the ships’ decks exposed to the bare elements.'
Read more: US Coast Guard Operates Secret Floating Prisons In Pacific Ocean
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