SAN JUAN -— President Donald Trump said he’s activated units and individual members of the U.S. Armed Forces reserves for an ongoing counter-narcotics effort in the Caribbean.
In an executive order Thursday, Trump authorized Defense Secretary Mike Esper to tap any military reserve unit for as long as a year for the effort to double U.S. capabilities in the region.
The authorization can include up to 200 reservists at any one time, the order said.
The counter-narcotics operation was announced last month by U.S. Southern Command as part of an internationally supported operation “to reduce the availability of illicit drugs and save lives in the United States and throughout the region.”
The stated aim is to reduce the flow of illicit drugs, repel international drug cartels and strengthen U.S. ties with 22 nations partnering in the action.
Trump said last month the United States would deploy additional Navy destroyers, combat ships, aircraft helicopters, Coast Guard cutters and Air Force surveillance aircraft closer to Venezuela after President Nicolas Maduro was indicted on narcotics trafficking charges.
“As governments and nations focus on the coronavirus, there is a growing threat that cartels, criminals, terrorists and other malign actors will try to exploit the situation for their own gain,” Trump said at the time. “We must not let that happen.”
Esper said the operation targets “corrupt actors like the illegitimate Maduro regime” in the Caribbean region.