Tags: coast guard | prisons | floating | guantanamo

Coast Guard Prisons Called 'Floating Guantanamos' Scrutinized

Coast Guard Prisons Called 'Floating Guantanamos' Scrutinized

In this March 7, 2017, photo, the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Stratton steams through the eastern Pacific Ocean. (Dario Lopez-Mills/AP)

By    |   Wednesday, 29 November 2017 01:24 PM

The U.S. Coast Guard is accused of running off-shore prisons where suspects are detained and held for weeks and months before they are returned to the United States to face charges, The New York Times reported last week.

Dubbed "floating Guantanamos," as in the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, these prisons on Coast Guard cutters have housed more than 2,700 men over the past six years who were suspected of smuggling cocaine in the Pacific Ocean from Colombia to Central America, the newspaper said.

The Times said the alleged fishermen-turned-smugglers are often caught in international waters. In 2016, the Coast Guard, with help from the U.S. Navy and international partners, detained 585 suspected drug smugglers, mostly in international waters, with 80 percent taken to the United States to face criminal charges, the newspaper noted.

In the 12 months that ended in September 2017, the Coast Guard captured more than 700 suspects and chained them aboard ships, the Times charged.

The prolonged detentions are justified by Coast Guard officials and federal prosecutors who argue that suspects are not formally under arrest when the Coast Guard detains them, The New York Times said.

"Ultimately, most of the cocaine on these smugglers' small boats is probably headed for the United States," Times reporter Seth Freed Wessler told Public Radio International about the story. "But some of it may be going to other markets, to European markets, to Australian markets or elsewhere.

"It's not always clear that the drugs are coming here and, in fact, the circuit court in California has said that the U.S. can't prosecute these cases unless they can prove that the drugs were headed to the United States — that they actually intended to show up there. And that's one of the reasons why federal prosecutors prefer to bring these cases to Florida, where that burden of proof is not required."

Government officials told The New York Times that information gathered from small-time boatmen is valuable in taking down larger transnational criminal networks. The Coast Guard charged that from 2002 to 2011, cases against these maritime smugglers helped the government secure three-quarters of its extraditions of Colombian drug kingpins, the Times reported.

Wessler told PRI, though, that the suspects are treated poorly, where buckets are used as toilets and they are forced to empty them overboard.

"They describe that as a really terrible disgusting process," Wessler told PRI. "… In fact, I spoke to Coast Guard commanders who are really uncomfortable about the conditions on their ship — and uncomfortable about the amount of time people are held."

The newspaper reported that some people have been held a long as 70 days on Coast Guard cutters, but they have no clear rules as to how long they can hold suspects.

© 2018 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

   
1Like our page
2Share
TheWire
The U.S. Coast Guard is accused of running off-shore prisons where suspects are detained and held for weeks and months before they are returned to the United States to face charges, The New York Times reported last week.
coast guard, prisons, floating, guantanamo
460
2017-24-29
Wednesday, 29 November 2017 01:24 PM
Newsmax Media, Inc.
 

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

NEWSMAX.COM
America's News Page
© Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved