US government hosts NOCSS

The Seventh Coast Guard District and the US Department of State welcomed foreign and federal partners to Miami for the inaugural Northern Caribbean Security Summit (NOCSS), Wednesday through Friday last week.

Leaders, military, and law enforcement representatives from The Bahamas, Turks and Caicos Islands, the UK and US discussed shared regional security interests and renewed commitments to address them together.

The NOCSS enhanced preexisting partnerships to counter transnational criminal organisations who traffic migrants, drugs, weapons and money, threatening regional and homeland security. NOCSS participants agreed upon the need for greater strategic coordination, training to achieve improved interoperability, and the sharing of intelligence information.

“There is no better time to address the challenges of tomorrow than today, and the opportunity to bring so many key leaders together demonstrates our shared commitment to these partnerships,” explained Rear Adm. Brendan C. McPherson, Commander of the Seventh Coast Guard District and director of HSTF-SE. “Together, we will deny transnational criminal organizations access to the northern Caribbean islands while enhancing the safety, security and prosperity of the entire region.”

Additional leaders in attendance represented the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, Royal Bahamas Police Force, International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, Council on Transnational Organized Crime, Department of Justice, Homeland Security Investigations and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The summit discussion topics included the evolving threat of transnational organized crime, human smuggling networks, trafficking in illegal narcotics and weapons that fuel regional violence and instability, countering China’s regional influence, and opportunities for greater strategic partner engagement in ongoing operations.

The NOCSS also discussed the future of Operation Bahamas, Turks and Caicos (OPBAT). OPBAT is a combined partnership between the Coast Guard, the Drug Enforcement Administration, US Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations, and law enforcement entities of The Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands to combat drug smuggling.

OPBAT assets also regularly assist with prosecuting human smuggling and search and rescue cases throughout its area of responsibility.

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