The Biden administration has quietly struck a deal with Ecuador to deploy troops to the country and patrol the waters off its coast to combat drug cartels, the Washington Examiner reported on Friday.
Select members of Congress were informed of the agreements on Wednesday during a closed-door briefing with Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso, who was in Washington to sign the deals.
The State Department did not publicize the agreements, but a State Department official confirmed the deals were signed in comments to the Examiner. The maritime deal will allow the US Coast Guard to patrol waters off Ecuador’s coast, an area where Colombian cartels transport cocaine.
The second agreement outlines the terms by which the US troops could be deployed to Ecuador, known as a status of forces agreement. The details of the agreement are not known, and it’s also unclear if it means a US troop deployment is imminent.
“That doesn’t mean we’re doing it, but it means we can, and it means that they’re making a very clear signal to us that they want more us involved,” said Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX), an ultra-hawk who favors military intervention against drug cartels.
Earlier this year, Crenshaw introduced a bill that would authorize the president to use military force against “those responsible for trafficking fentanyl or a fentanyl-related substance into the United States or carrying out other related activities that cause regional destabilization in the Western Hemisphere.”