The INL Beat, September/October 2017

Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs

Date: 08/10/2015 Description: New INL Beat Newsletter logo - State Dept Image

September/October 2017 ISSUE

Farewell Message from Ambassador Brownfield

During my six and a half years at the helm of INL, it has been my distinct pleasure and honor to have worked with so many partners to increase U.S. security by stemming the flow of drugs, combating transnational organized crime, and building strong, effective, and fair justice institutions overseas. INL’s teammates in this effort have included state/local partners, interagency colleagues, and other implementers, many of whom subscribe to this newsletter. Throughout my tenure I relied on the important contributions our extended network of INL partners, whose hard work and commitment is crucial to the success of INL programs around the globe. It is my sincerest hope that these partnerships continue to strengthen in furtherance of the safety and security of this great country.

-William R. Brownfield, Former Assistant Secretary for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs

Salvadoran Police Deliver with Ronaldinho Soccer Camp

On August 8, 2017, INL partnered with the National Civilian Police (PNC) of El Salvador and Brazilian Soccer Star Ronaldinho to offer an unforgettable experience to 400 at-risk youth. A worldwide icon for his career with Barcelona, Milan, and the Brazilian National Team, Ronaldinho visited El Salvador for a youth soccer camp at the National Stadium Magico Gonzalez. Ronaldinho’s efforts to use sports as a way to help youth escape poverty and violence closely aligns with the goals of the Police Athletic League (PAL), an INL-funded effort to help local police in El Salvador’s most dangerous cities coach youth in a variety of sports. The PAL program provides safe after-school activities for El Salvador’s most vulnerable youth, teaching kids valuable lessons about teamwork and sportsmanship to help them resist the influence of gangs, and building trust between the police and communities they serve. From a pilot program in 2012 with just 500 kids, the PAL now reaches over 11,000 youth in 10 cities. With the help of Fundacion Patria Unida, INL works closely with the PNC to coach boys’ and girls’ teams for soccer, basketball, swimming, cheerleading, and tennis.

Date: 2017 Description: Ronaldinho poses with Salvadoran at-risk youth and local police officers at the conclusion of their soccer camp at Magico Gonzalez Stadium. - State Dept Image
Ronaldinho poses with Salvadoran at-risk youth and local police officers at the conclusion
of their soccer camp
at Magico Gonzalez Stadium.

Soccer remains the biggest draw for the PAL, and on August 8th over 400 kids traveled with their PNC coaches on INL-donated buses from locations across El Salvador to come together at the National Stadium, where they practiced on the field they had seen on television so many times before. Parents, friends, and community members cheered from the stands, while Ronaldinho’s team gave the kids jerseys emblazoned with the slogan made famous by the star and his Brazilian teammates: “Joga Bonito” (“Play Beautiful”). When Ronaldinho arrived, he visited each of the PAL teams on the field, posing for photographs and offering pointers from his own career as the children continued to drill with their PNC coaches. Ronaldinho was joined on the field and afterwards onstage by U.S. Ambassador Jean Elizabeth Manes and PNC Director General Howard Cotto, who presented Ronaldinho with a PAL plaque and El Salvador’s national jersey. Ronaldinho spoke to the participants about values learned on the field – teamwork, discipline, dedication, and perseverance – and the impact embracing those values has had on his own life. He encouraged the youth to follow their dreams and realize their potential to make a difference in their community.

Date: 2017 Description: Ronaldinho accepts an honorary Police Athletic League (PAL) plaque from U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador, Jean Elizabeth Manes. - State Dept Image

Ronaldinho accepts an honorary Police Athletic League (PAL) plaque from U.S. Ambassador
to El Salvador, Jean Elizabeth Manes.

Ronaldinho’s visit was an opportunity for children vulnerable to gang recruitment to meet one of their heroes, and find some new “Heroes en Azul” among the local police officers participating in the event. By taking advantage of Ronaldinho’s brief visit to El Salvador, INL helped local police deliver a big win for the kids they coach during the day and whose communities they patrol at night, while reminding the youth good things come to those who work hard and keep practicing.

Prisoner Turned Chef Serves U.S. Ambassador to Georgia Ian Kelly

During a recent trip to Uplistsikhe, U.S. Ambassador to Georgia Ian Kelly received a pleasant surprise while stopping at Gamarjoba restaurant. When Chef Irakli Miruashvili heard that Ambassador Kelly was visiting the restaurant where he works, he jumped at the opportunity to share his story.

“Mr. Ambassador, I left a prison six days ago. The U.S. Embassy sponsored Chef Manuel from Tbilisi’s culinary institute to teach me and other inmates cooking skills for over six months. It is because of you that I work here today. This program changed my life and I thank America for that.”

Date: 2017 Description: Ambassador Ian Kelly poses with Chef Irakli Miruashvili, alum of the INL funded culinary arts programĀ for Georgian prisoners - State Dept Image

Ambassador Ian Kelly poses with Chef Irakli Miruashvili, alum of the INL funded culinary arts
program for Georgian prisoners.

INL supports the Georgian Ministry of Corrections and Probation Ministry’s commitment to expand vocational and educational programs in the prisons throughout Georgia. These programs help inmates successfully transition back into society and contribute to a reduction in recidivism. This culinary arts program, the first ever vocational program in Georgia’s penitentiary system, began in 2016 will continue this fall with 20 new students.

INL on The Water: Strengthening America’s “Third Border” in The Bahamas

In the 1980s, nearly 80 percent of cocaine entering the United States came through The Bahamas. The “Cocaine Cowboy” days included myriad smuggling rings in The Bahamas, where drug runners operated in the open and with impunity. To stem this flow, the United States, in partnership with The Bahamas and the United Kingdom/Turks and Caicos, established Operation Bahamas, Turks and Caicos (OPBAT) in 1982. OPBAT includes both partner nation and interagency assets and interdicts illicit narcotics transiting waters surrounding the two island chains. OPBAT has contributed to a reduction in the flow of cocaine entering the United States through the Caribbean. Recent estimates show the flow of cocaine through the region down to around 10 percent of the overall total entering the United States. However, continued vigilance and support are required. Narco-traffickers may want to revive this traditional smuggling route as pressure is applied elsewhere and cocaine production in Colombia continues to increase.

INL addresses this threat by building the capacity of The Bahamas to participate in maritime interdiction operations under OPBAT via the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI). Launched in 2010 to reduce trafficking, increase public safety, and promote social justice in thirteen Caribbean partner nations, INL contributes the vast majority of CBSI foreign assistance funding in The Bahamas to supporting law enforcement and counternarcotics efforts. Two recent efforts have utilized the advanced skills of the Royal Bahamas Police Force Marine Support Services Unit (RBPF MSSU) to train other regional partners in the maintenance of maritime assets and supported U.S. Coast Guard-led training of the Customs Marine Unit to enhance their effectiveness in at-sea interdictions.

In January 2017, the RBPF MSSU mentored six members of the Jamaican Constabulary Force on proper maintenance and sustainment of maritime assets in Nassau. The event was the first iteration of a regional maritime maintenance program aimed at leveraging the advanced capabilities of the RBPF MSSU to mentor other regional partners. To assist with this first-of-its-kind regional training event, INL contracted with two experienced boat engine mechanics to assist the RBPF MSSU in providing basic engine repair training. The mechanics reported the RBPF MSSU were among the best they had seen in terms of boat maintenance, repair, and care in the region, and they stated the Bahamians should be left to conduct this training on their own in the future. Future iterations of the Bahamian-led mentorship program will benefit other CBSI partners by providing instruction on proper maintenance and sustainment, thereby enhancing the operational availability of regional maritime assets to participate in counterdrug operations.

In June 2017, a U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Mobile Training Team delivered Basic Boat Operator training to the Bahamas Customs Marine Unit. This was the first of eight courses to be delivered by the USCG to develop and improve the capacity of the RBPF MSSU and the Bahamas Customs Marine Unit. The training focused on enhancing the recently-formed Customs Marine Unit’s ability to participate in maritime interdictions with the more experienced RBPF MSSU. By the conclusion of the course, the unit had acquired the basic skills to perform at-sea interdictions. Future iterations of training will concentrate on further building Bahamian operational capacity to participate in OPBAT by enhancing the skills of both units to increase their effectiveness.

These projects share two core CBSI implementing principles: (1) Utilize the advanced skills of partner nations to build the capacities of less skilled partners in key areas, and (2) Build sustainable partner nation capacity to address regional challenges. By utilizing the advanced skills of partner nations to train other less advanced partners, INL is reducing the cost to the U.S. taxpayer for training of partner nations in securing borders. Skilled partner country trainers reduce the burden of using more expensive United States government and contractor trainers. Increased maritime capabilities of partner nations permit them to take further ownership of their territorial integrity by enhancing their ability to conduct end-game interdiction operations. In building sustainable partner nation capacity via courses such as the USCG training program, INL is ensuring train-the-trainer instruction promotes partner nation self-sufficiency going forward. Each course administered builds upon the skills learned in the previous course with the objective of developing a cadre of Bahamian personnel capable of training additional unit members on best practices established by the USCG.

Date: 2017 Description: A SAFE Boat INL provided to The Bahamas. - State Dept Image

A SAFE Boat INL provided to The Bahamas.

INL and Atlanta Police Department Partner to Counter Bias-Motivated Crimes in Honduras

INL partners with the Atlanta Police Department (APD) to provide trainings in how to counter bias-motivated crimes. Since 2013, many of these trainings have taken place at one of INL’s five regionally-located International Law Enforcement Academies (ILEAs). The ILEAs advance U.S. interests in combating transnational organized crime by developing relationships between U.S. law enforcement entities and criminal justice officials around the world; providing training and technical assistance to support institution building and law enforcement capabilities; and fostering regional law enforcement networks in key regions to facilitate effective law enforcement activities between our foreign partner countries. Members of the Violent Crimes Task Force have also participated in the ILEAs Countering Bias-Motivated Crimes Course at the ILEA in San Salvador.

Police officers in Honduras, however, wanted to do more to address intimidation and discrimination against their often underserved and marginalized Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex (LGBTI) community. During an Embassy-led dialogue between members of the Honduran National Police (HNP) Violent Crimes Task Force, the APD, and representatives from the FBI’s Civil Rights Program and DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, HNP officers learned first-hand how U.S. federal and local law enforcement agencies address bias-motivated crimes and began developing a special training course.

On July 10, 2017, the APD’s LGBT Liaison Unit and the Hispanic Liaison Unit led Tegucigalpa’s first-ever Countering Bias-Motivated Crimes Course. The course took place at the Universidad de Tecnologicas and was hosted by the HNP’s Criminal Investigations School (EIC). These APD units are tasked with assisting communities plagued by violence and have a strong track record of training and experience in countering bias-motivated crimes that has proven effective in addressing the diverse needs of the communities they serve. The course was a milestone for both the EIC and APD; it was the first time the EIC hosted international trainers, and it was the APD’s first INL-sponsored training in Honduras. Thirty-two participants from seven different INL-supported Honduran policing entities, including the Violent Crimes Task Force, participated in the training. During the seminar, law enforcement agents had cordial and productive interactions with guest participants from indigenous and LGBTI organizations.

Honduran Minister of Security Pacheco presided over the July 14 graduation, commending the officers on bringing communities together and reducing violence among the most vulnerable. The APD and EIC went on to replicate the course a week later in Honduras’ second largest city, San Pedro Sula, which in 2016 registered the most hate crimes in Honduras.

These trainings help police officers respond to the challenges inherent to working in these violent, unstable communities. Victims of bias-motivated crimes are often unwilling to report these and other crimes, such as narco-trafficking and gang activities. By stabilizing and strengthening security institutions within these communities, and with support from partners like APD and INL, the Government of Honduras has been able to support previously ungovernable neighborhoods, and reduce the overall levels of violence nationwide. INL plans to continue to assist the HNP in preventing bias-motivated crimes through training and outreach programs and the promotion of law enforcement curricula reform.

Date: 2017 Description: Atlanta Police Department Officer Eric King passing out training materials to students. - State Dept Image

Atlanta Police Department Officer Eric King passing out training materials to students.

INL Air Wing Operations Officer Receives GSA Federal Aviation Professional Award

Annually, the General Services Administration (GSA), in conjunction with the Interagency Committee for Aviation Policy (ICAP), presents an award to the person judged to be the best federal aviation professional in an operational or support position. Competition is keen between nominees of the thirteen federal agencies constituting ICAP.

The recipient of this year’s award was Duane Seward of the INL Air Wing, who was recognized for his superior performance as the Senior Aviation Advisor in Afghanistan. In that capacity, he oversaw a program involving 17 fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft providing critical aviation support to Embassy Kabul. Of all of his accomplishments, Duane’s professionalism was best exemplified by his execution of aviation support to the response to a massive terrorist Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED) blast. Under Duane’s direction, U.S. Embassy Air helicopters inserted rescue medics within 25 minutes and subsequently performed eight medical evacuation trips, transporting 21 patients to two different hospitals, while also providing continuous overhead security, movement of support and security teams, transport of evidence, and performance of all regularly scheduled missions carrying over 80 passengers. That effort was typical of the quality of aviation support Duane and his team delivered on a daily basis. Recently, Duane left his post in Afghanistan after five years of dedicated service and is now serving as the Air Wing’s Operations Officer at Patrick Air Force Base, Florida.

Date: 2017 Description: Duane Seward (left) receives the Aviation Professional Award from GSA's Bob Galloway on behalf of the Interagency Committee for Aviation Policy. - State Dept Image

Duane Seward (left) receives the Aviation Professional Award from GSA’s Bob Galloway on behalf
of the Interagency Committee for Aviation Policy.