Va. Guard Counterdrug Task Force supports law enforcement

Soldiers from the Chesterfield-based Detachment 1, Company A, 2nd Battalion, 151st Aviation Regiment depart for the border between the United States and Mexico Jan. 26, 2015, aboard a UH-72 Lakota helicopter, from the Chesterfield County Airport. The three Soldiers will provide aerial detection and monitoring support to U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection and additional Virginia Guard Soldiers will rotate through the mission until the end of April in support of law enforcement interdiction operations against illicit trafficking in people, drugs, weapons and money, as well as the violence associated with those illicit activities. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Terra C. Gatti, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

Aviation support provided by the Virginia National Guard Counterdrug Task Force assists federal and state law enforcement officials in the fight against illegal narcotics and gun distribution activities. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Terra C. Gatti, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

SANDSTON, Va. — Aviation support provided by the Virginia National Guard Counterdrug Task Force in January and February 2016 assisted federal and state law enforcement officials bring indictments against individuals suspected for involvement in illegal narcotics and gun distribution activities as well as suspected involvement in cartel related narcotics trafficking and terrorism links.

“The drug threat continues to evolve in Virginia and the Virginia National Guard Counterdrug Task Force has adapted our law enforcement support to counter this changing threat and meet the national drug control strategy and priorities here in Virginia,” said Lt. Col. William X. Taylor, Jr., the Counterdrug Task Force commander. “We do this through robust relationships with our law enforcement partners and our community-based organizations. We act as force multipliers for our law enforcement partners and apply military unique skills and resources to help safeguard our communities against the threat of transnational criminal organizations and illicit drug trafficking.

The Virginia National Guard Counterdrug Task Force places Guard Soldiers in support of law enforcement agencies with criminal analysts and aviation support using light observation helicopters to support law enforcement efforts.

“We’re an organization unrelenting in our ability and desire to safeguard our communities,” Taylor said. “We consciously recognize that the demand for drugs drives the supply and also work with our community-based organizations to discover local resources and strategies to meet their needs in combating the demand and the abuse of illicit drugs.”

In mid-February, Virginia aviators flew surveillance in support of federal law enforcement in the Northern Virginia Area that resulted in multiple arrests related to illegal narcotics and gun distribution activities.

Earlier in February, Task Force personnel were part of a multi-state, multi-agency law enforcement effort that led to the indictment of nine individuals. According to a news release from the U. S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina, the case was investigated by FBI Raleigh with assistance from FBI Newburgh NY, FBI New York, FBI Syracuse, North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, North Carolina Department of Public Safety, Raleigh Police Department, Durham Police Department, Cary Police Department, Greenville Police Department, North Carolina Alcohol Law Enforcement, North Carolina Probation and Parole, North Carolina State Highway Patrol, New York Department of Taxation and Finance, Internal Revenue Service, United States Marshals Service and the Virginia National Guard Counterdrug Taskforce.

In addition to providing aviation support, a member of the Task Force who is also a certified emergency medical technician, provided instruction on advanced first aid training. In December 2015, the Soldier instructed federal and local law enforcement personnel on how to provide critical care and lifesaving techniques if an emergency situation develops during counter-narcotics operations.

Virginia National Guard Counterdrug Task Force support to law enforcement agencies since Jan. 1, 2016, has resulted in 43 arrests, the seizure of 166 weapons, and 826.6 pounds of drugs taken off the streets of Virginia with a street value of $1,959,241.00. Additionally, the Task Force has supported 22 Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force cases focused on high level organizations in drug trafficking and 37 priority targets which are the most prolific international drug trafficking and money laundering organizations.

The National Guard Counterdrug Program is a Department of Defense element supporting the detection, interdiction, disruption and curtailment of drug trafficking activities through the application of military-unique skills and resources in concert with law enforcement agencies in their effort to curtail illicit drug trafficking and transnational criminal organizations.