|The two Marine helicopters came from Edwards Air Force Base in California to aid in the search for illegal drugs by air. The Emery County Drug Task Force participates in active search efforts each year. In 2002, 690,000 marijuana plants were seized from our national forests.|
The forest service's Law Enforcement and Investigations (LE&I) Branch announced today that Joint Task Force Six (JTF-6), the Department of Defense's counter drug organization tasked to provide military support to the Nation's law enforcement agencies, completed helicopter reconnaissance over portions of national parks, BLM lands, and portions of the Dixie, Fishlake and Manti-La Sal National Forests in southern Utah.
The Forest Service submitted the request for this mission. It was a multi-agency operation with law enforcement coordination and support from five southern Utah narcotics task forces who represent 13 southern Utah counties. Other participating agencies included the Utah Highway Patrol, BLM, NPS, Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and the Drug Enforcement Administration. This mission gave local and federal law enforcement agencies an opportunity to monitor federal and state lands for illegal manufacture and cultivation of controlled substances.
The JTF-6 team is strictly in a counter-drug support role, says forest service special agent Charlie Vaughn. Federal law prohibits the use of active duty and reserve military personnel in a law enforcement capacity. In their support capacity for the operation in southern Utah, service members limited their activities to aerial reconnaissance operations. The US Marine Corps unit HMM764 came from Edwards Air Force Base in California. This Marine Corps unit uses the CH 46 helicopter, similar to the troop-carrying helicopters used in Iraq.
JTF-6 is a joint service command comprising active and reserve component soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen. The unit uses both internal assets and volunteer units from all branches of the Department of Defense to accomplish the counter drug support missions requested by local, state, regional and federal law enforcement agencies. JTF-6 does not initiate counter-drug support missions; all of its support operations are solely based on requests submitted by law enforcement agencies.
The supported law enforcement agencies gained invaluable counter-drug support, and the military personnel gained training opportunities that are directly related to their military missions, says Vaughn
JTF-6 area of operations includes the entire continental United States. Since it's inception in 1989, JTF-6 has completed more than 5,500 counter-drug missions in direct support of more than 450 law enforcement agencies across the nation. In 2002, over 690,000 marijuana plants were seized from our nation's national forests.