A GHOST Worth Believing In

ocean sun glare

(DGIwire) — Drug smuggling operations still have the gritty feel of an Elmore Leonard novel, but the routes traffickers use are constantly shifting. Currently, for example, the majority of cocaine smuggled into the U.S. arrives by boat directly from South America to Puerto Rico. This is a clever route, because the packages concealing the drugs do not need to go through customs, and it is a lot easier to avoid detection in the vast sea than along the highly patrolled United States-Mexico land border.

Vito S. Guarino, the United States Drug Enforcement Administration’s special agent in charge in San Juan and a veteran of the 1980 Caribbean-Miami drug wars, says the cocaine leaving South America today is not coming by plane but by so-called go-fast speedboats with several huge engines. Guarino adds that the smuggling is decidedly low-tech. Smugglers leave after nightfall, often from the shores along the porous border between Colombia and Venezuela, often later transferring the shipments to smaller craft, which land on Puerto Rico’s considerable shoreline to offload. Tarps and go-fast boats don’t have to alter that method for now, he says; sometimes they send a decoy—four boats go out, one is caught, and the rest make it.

This recent increase in drug trafficking is a grave concern to many, including General John F. Kelly, the leader of the Southern Command, who warned the Senate Armed Services Committee of the danger. He explained that his forces are ill-equipped to handle the level of activity—only intercepting 20 percent of the drugs coming in. General Kelly told the Senate panel he receives only about five percent of the resources he actually needs. There has been no overall strategy in the fight against drug trafficking in this region, Kelly adds, and it has been getting worse.

Ghost on Water

One company committed to addressing this situation and others like it is Juliet Marine Systems, a maritime technology company based in Portsmouth, NH. As it develops innovative solutions for naval and commercial applications, the company prides itself on integrating the latest technology to create new solutions to existing needs.

Juliet Marine’s lead product is a surface vessel known as GHOST. Efficiency, economy and effectiveness have been packaged into this revolutionary maritime craft. The company’s President and CEO, Gregory E. Sancoff, explains its capabilities as follows: “Packaged in a marine platform, GHOST combines the technologies of a stealth fighter aircraft and an attack helicopter. The awesome capabilities of GHOST are designed to provide a marine surface and subsurface platform for tracking and identification of multiple targets.”

The vessel also operates less expensively and has fewer weather restrictions than current solutions, Sancoff reports. “The gas turbines’ fuel efficiency allows GHOST to travel 10,000 miles before refueling, making it a perfect solution for surveillance of problem areas, with the added capability of intercepting traffickers in the water.”

“Drug smugglers on water depend on speed and stealth to avoid detection. In many cases they can out run and out gun most Coast Guard or DEA vessels which protect our littoral borders. JMS’ GHOST vessel’s 80 knot speed, fighter jet-like fly-by-wire maneuverability, stealth configuration and smart weapons platform will overwhelm the cigarette boats of the drug smugglers and the GHOST’s on-board firepower will be able to hunt down and capture  any smugglers they set their sights on,” says Kevin J. Kinsella, founding parter of Avalon Ventures and first venture investor in Juliet Marine.

A good GHOST to believe in, for sure.

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