MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- A health-and-comfort inspection into each room, office and common area throughout the barracks of 8th Engineer Support Battalion aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune revealed more than just contraband March 4.
Staff non-commissioned officers and officers probed drawers, closets, ventilation shafts and any place a sneaky service member could hide contraband during the inspection directed by the commanding officer of 8th ESB with support from the Provost Marshall’s Office, 2nd Law Enforcement Battalion, Jacksonville Police Department and the base’s Special Response Team.
“We supported the battalion commander's health-and-comfort inspection with coordinated assets (from local and base law enforcement),” said John Murray the II MEF director of Force Preservation. “This integrated support is all part of the II Marine Expeditionary Force Counter Drug Campaign and is the first of many operations to come."
The campaign supplements already existing substance abuse programs and is intended to provide a huge blow to drug threats across II MEF. Since Nov. 2012, the campaign resulted in random vehicle checks at all entry points to local installations and a MEF-wide urinalysis.
“This is unprecedented,” said Maj. Mark Bailey, the provost marshal with Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. “These types of inspections and other nontraditional methods are being employed like never before. Marines can expect to see more effort toward the enforcement of policy and for units to be more active with inspections.”
Health-and-comfort inspections are a way for commanding officers and leaders to assess living spaces and ensure their Marines and sailors are free of safety hazards and contraband, including illegal drugs.
The barracks were inspected from top to bottom, but the check did not end there. Military working dogs with the Provost Marshal’s Office searched vehicles for contraband. The barracks’ three floors and 96 rooms were examined along with approximately 200 vehicles in four parking lots spread over three-fourths of a mile.
“Nothing is off limits,” said Jeffrey Rodriguez the officer in charge of the Criminal Investigation Division aboard MCB Camp Lejeune.
Law enforcement officials added their resources and expertise to the search.
“We were ready if inspectors found something,” said Cpl. Donald Love, a military police officer with the Provost Marshal’s Office. “We provided the military working dogs and anything a unit would need from a law enforcement standpoint. We were also ready to help if a suspect became combative. We can handle and process everything that happens on scene, rather than waiting for a routine patrol.”
Law enforcement on scene supported 8th ESB by assisting with search, seizure and the apprehension of offenders, said Capt. Michael Collinsworth, the operations officer with the Provost Marshal’s Office. The inspections yielded narcotics, weapons and alcohol.
Law Enforcement assets, such as the military working dogs, offered an advantage to the inspections. The dogs have at a minimum a 90 percent accuracy rate when seeking narcotics and many are even more proficient.
Jorge Gallo, a military working dog handler, said the dogs are big assets that enhance any operation.
The dogs and many teams of law enforcement conducting the thorough searches are expected to serve as a deterrent to drug use and activity.
“This can lead Marines to alter their thought process if they had or were using illegal drugs or prescribed pills illegally,” said 1st Lt. Drew Miller, the Company B commanding officer with 2nd LEB. “Hopefully seeing PMO out there looking for drugs and trying to make the Corps better will help them rethink their actions. This lets Marines know something is being done to enforce the Corps’ zero-tolerance policy. If (Marines) don’t see their leadership and law enforcement actively cracking down on the drug problem they may remain content with (substance abuse).”
Even those who do not participate in illegal activities can benefit and learn by witnessing the efforts against drug use, added Gunnery Sgt. Chris McDaniel, the military working dog kennel master with 2nd LEB.
“This raises awareness of the problem as well,” said McDaniel. “I’m sure many Marines who are squared away and doing the right thing may not realize there is a drug problem in our Corps. This brings it to light and opens their eyes so they can help the Marines to their left and right.”
This is the latest in II MEF’s all-out attack against drugs. II MEF is committed to continuing to find new and innovative ways to combat the problem with the support of local law enforcement.
Each case will be individually and thoroughly investigated, carefully assessed and fully processed as every service member apprehended is presumed innocent and has the right to due process.