Today, President Trump visited the U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) in Doral, Florida for a briefing on increased efforts to stop the flow of deadly drugs coming into the country. You might remember, earlier this year, President Trump directed his administration to begin conducting enhanced counternarcotics operations in the Western Hemisphere.
To conduct these operations, President Trump directed the deployment of additional ships, aircraft, and security forces to assist in the mission. Later, the Secretary of Defense ordered units of the Selected Reserve into active duty to support forces already engaged in this mission. These military deployments in the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific will continue to counter the threat posed by illegal narcotics trafficking and criminal groups.
[Transcript] – THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you very much. (Applause.) And thank you to our great Admiral Faller. Thank you also to all of the exceptional leaders and talents that we have in this room. U.S. Southern Command is just an outstanding group of people. Thank you very much — very much, Admiral
We’re here today to discuss our vital effort to keep deadly drugs out of our country and away from our children. And, wow, are we making progress in a short period of time, thanks to you. (Applause.) It’s amazing.
And I have come to personally thank you. I wanted to make this trip personally. We were going to do a phoner, and I said, “A phoner is not quite the same thing, is it?” So I came to personally thank you for your valiant fight to defend our borders and take our vile traffickers — these vile traffickers out of business, knock them out of business: the smugglers, the criminal cartels. We want to knock them out.
You’re on the frontlines every day saving countless American lives and delivering the righteous thunder of American justice. No adversary can match the awesome power of the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marines, and, I must tell you, very soon we’re going to have a thing called Space Force. You know about that, right? Space Force. That’s a big deal. One of the many things we’ve done in this administration. And that’s going to be one of the most important, I predict.
Let us also show our deep appreciation for your law enforcement partners at the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice. Thank you very much for being here. Thank you very much. We’ll always stand with the incredible men and women of law enforcement. We will never, ever defund our police. Okay? That, I can tell you. We’re not defunding police.
What’s going on here — Admiral, when you hear “defund the police,” you’re probably saying, “That’s a foreign language.” Right? So, just a terrible thing, but it’s — I assume this is going to be a fad. We’ll call it a fad. But it’s not something that will work very well — that, I can tell you.
We’re pleased to be joined by Secretary of Defense Mark Esper. Thank you very much, Mark. Thank you. (Applause.) Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf. I think we’re keeping him pretty busy. Right? (Applause.) He’s been a busy man. Coast Guard Commandant, Admiral Karl Schultz. Admiral, thank you very much. And a great warrior — he’s a warrior; he’s a strong guy, a great guy: Congressman Mario Díaz-Balart. Thank you very much, Mario. (Applause.)
On the first of this year, I announced that the United States Armed Forces would begin a surge of military assets in the Western Hemisphere, unlike anything seen in recent history. And that is a fact. And one of the reasons is we now have better equipment than we’ve ever had. We have new, beautiful equipment that comes along with $2.5 trillion in spending, all made in the USA.
Over the last three months, American service members, joined by partner nations, have patrolled regional waters from the Caribbean Sea to the east Pacific. The United States deployed a vast arsenal of Coast Guard cutters, naval combat ships, specially armed Coast Guard helicopters — and they are real weapons; they are powerful weapons — high-tech maritime patrol aircraft, as well as roughly 1,300 additional personnel. These forces represent a 65 percent increase in ships and a 75 percent increase in surveillance aircraft from last year alone.
We’re taking the fight directly to the sinister criminal cartels, and we’re showing them no mercy. We are doing numbers like nobody thought possible. Even the Admiral, he would say that he would have never thought this was going to happen to the extent that it’s happened.
Our message is clear: You will not threaten our citizens, you will not poison our children, and you will not infiltrate our borders. We will find you, we will stop you, and we will put everybody that we find behind bars, if you’re lucky.
The results of this historic international campaign have been absolutely phenomenal. This joint operation has resulted in the interdiction of more than 120 metric tons — does anyone know how much that is? — of illicit narcotics. That is a massive — billions and billions. And the arrest of more than 1,000 drug traffickers. These actions have denied the cartel of billions of — various cartels of billions and billions of dollars in cash, and prevented the loss of untold American lives, and we’ve seen the results in the United States.
In a single four-day period in May, our courageous Coast Guard men and women stopped three narco submarines packed with poisonous drugs, keeping thousands of pounds of lethal narcotics off of our streets and off of our city areas. We got rid of it; we got it. We have it, and I don’t know what you do with it. What do you do with it, by the way? You get all that stuff. Do you dump it? What do you do with it, Admiral? I want to hear.
ADMIRAL FALLER: Turn it over to (inaudible).
THE PRESIDENT: I want to hear. What do you do with that?
PARTICIPANT: So we keep some for prosecution, and then it’s destroyed by our (inaudible).
THE PRESIDENT: You blow it up, or just dump it someplace?
PARTICIPANT: They burn it, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: They burn it. All right. That sounds like a good way of doing it.
On behalf of millions of American moms and dads, I want to express our country’s pride and gratitude for your lifesaving actions.
My administration is committed to ensuring you have the tools, the resources, equipment, and support you need and the support that you deserve. And you’ve always deserved it. And you used to run short. You don’t run short anymore. You have the best equipment in the world.
After years of painful budget cuts, I ended last year’s disastrous defense sequester, and secured almost the 2.5 billion that I mentioned to rebuild our entire United States military. We’re giving you the finest airplanes and ships, submarines, tanks, missiles, and weapons of every single kind — even new uniforms, in some cases, for the Army, as an example — and again, all made in the USA. I love that sound: “Made in the USA.”
We’ve approved the two new state-of-the-art national security cutters and two polar security cutters for the United States Coast Guard, and so much other equipment, including — we have, under construction right now, the largest icebreaker in the world. And we’re going to be trying to get, if we can, an extra 10 icebreakers. We only have one. Russia has 40; we have one. So we will have 2, but we think we’ll have 10 because we’re trying to do a deal with a certain place that has a lot of icebreakers, and we’re seeing if we can make a really good deal where you can have them very fast. You know about that. We’re working on it, and I think we can surprise you — at a very good price, which will be nice. Much cheaper than the one we’re building, and that’s also nice. You could do about five of them.
Our enemies are on notice because the United States military is much more powerful, much more lethal, and much more prepared than ever before. We’re in a position that we’d never been in, equipment-wise. And we have the greatest people on Earth.
We’re also supporting the courageous men and women of CBP, ICE, Border Patrol, and DEA, and FBI and all of the heroes of law enforcement. Great people.
As long as I am President, I will never allow your sacred mission to be undermined or attacked in any way. I will not have open borders, we will not abolish the police, and we will not slash the budgets for our military, and we will not allow our country to be swamped with deadly drugs.
We have stopped numbers that we’ve never stopped before, or even close. And we have done it in a way that our enemy understands. And they’re getting a little bit concerned because they’ve never had losses like this. They’ve never had submarines taken from them. They actually build submarines because — smaller versions of what we have, to put it mildly. Like, much smaller. But they’re submarines nevertheless. Very expensive things. And they’ve never seen anything like what’s happened to them in the last year and a half.
We will defend our country. We will defend our borders, our children, our heroes, and our great American flag. We’ll always defend our American flag. We’re very proud of our flag.
We will protect, preserve, and promote the American way of life. And we will always stand strong for God, country, family, and freedom.
I just want to thank everybody for being here. This is a very special moment. I think especially so because you’ve done so much over the last short period of time to bring life and safety to the United States of America and other parts of the world, by the way, but to the United States.
And I want to thank you. God bless you all. Thank you very much. Admiral, thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.)