PACIFIC OCEAN (NNS) -- Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen (DDG 82) arrived in the U.S. 4th Fleet area of operations to begin conducting counter illicit trafficking operations in support of Operation Martillo, March 2.
Operation Martillo (Spanish for "hammer") is a U.S., European and Western Hemisphere partner-nation effort launched in January 2012 targeting illicit trafficking routes in coastal waters along the Central American isthmus.
U.S. military participation is led by Joint Interagency Task Force South (JIATF-South), in support of U.S. Southern Command.
Operation Martillo demonstrates a clear commitment of the Western Hemisphere and European nations to work as partners to counter the spread of transnational criminal organizations, and to protect citizens in Central America from the violence, harm and exploitation created by these criminal networks.
Operation Martillo is an international, interagency operation that includes the participation of 14 countries committed to a regional approach against transnational criminal organizations moving illicit cargo. To date, partner nation efforts have contributed to 57 percent of all disruptions to illicit trafficking and 60 percent of the metric tons captured as part of the Operation Martillo initiative.
"We have been planning and training for this deployment for well over the past year," said Cmdr. Robert Francis, commanding officer, USS Lassen. "The entire crew is thrilled to be a key asset in counter illicit trafficking."
Lassen departed Yokosuka, Japan, Jan. 6, for her new homeport of Mayport, Florida, after serving nearly 10 years as part of the Forward Deployed Naval Forces.
U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet supports U.S. Southern Command's joint and combined military operations by employing maritime forces in cooperative maritime security operations in order to maintain access, enhance interoperability, and build enduring partnerships in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions.
For more news from U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command & U.S. 4th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/cusns/.