News: Demand for excess military equipment increasing in Puerto Rico
Story by Strategic Communications DLA
PUERTO RICO - Law enforcement organizations in Puerto Rico are taking a keen interest in procuring excess military equipment from Defense Logistics Agency Disposition Services.
Puerto Rico sits about midway between the major cartels in South America and the lucrative U.S. drug markets to the north. The island’s natural draw for drug runners is long established, and the influence of the criminal element there seems to be growing. According to published studies, the U.S. territory’s estimated narcotics trade-related income is now estimated to be $9 billion, or potentially a fifth of the commonwealth’s gross domestic product.
Against this backdrop, Disposal Support Directorate East’s Denise Ribot, Law Enforcement Support Office representative Dan Arnold, and others within DLA secured agreements to share the resources of DLA Disposition Services and LESO with Puerto Rico’s law enforcement community for the first time in summer 2011. In the short while since those agreements were signed, interest in DLA’s used- and excess-equipment inventory in Puerto Rico has exploded.
“Word is spreading like wildfire,” disposal services representative David Morgan said, adding that he’s hearing from several potential new customers each week.
What started as four or five law enforcement customers has quickly become more than 40, “so many, it’s hard to keep count,” he said.
Morgan has issued more than $12 million in property to law enforcement customers on the island since September, with a record $3 million in equipment requisitioned just in February. He said he attributes the demand to the high quality of the property available.
“Brand new toolsets worth $78,000, brand new generators with four hours use, Humvees with seven miles on them, " Morgan said. Humvees, popular with law enforcement offices throughout the U.S., have already been licensed and put into service in Puerto Rico, allowing police to keep an eye out for suspicious watercraft while conducting beach patrols and to penetrate jungle environments where narcotics operatives stay hidden.
“Any police department on the island that wants [Humvees] is going to get them,” Morgan said.
The seeming glut of high-quality equipment and vehicles is not an indication of U.S. wastefulness, but rather a bi-product of several force adjustments – the re-designation of units in the Virgin Islands, the elimination of local Air National Guard units, and the determination that certain equipment and technologies have become obsolete – that has created a perfect storm of unneeded equipment and a great opportunity for qualifying customers on the island, Morgan said.
“There’s lots and lots of work down here,” he said. “There’s lots and lots of property being turned in. It definitely keeps me busy. I think it will go on like this for a long time.”
While Morgan figures the pace to remain hectic, he said the work is worth it and added that he hopes that the services DLA is providing in Puerto Rico will positively impact the island’s ability to fight back against the powerful criminal groups at work there.
“To think that I’m helping those efforts in some way, that part makes me very happy,” Morgan said.