Caribbean cocaine flows to United States keep rising -U.S. official

SANTO DOMINGO, (Reuters) – The percentage of cocaine flowing to the United States through the Caribbean has more than tripled in the past three years, an Obama administration official said today, adding weight to claims that criminal organizations are shifting back to a route they abandoned years ago.

About 16 percent of drugs entered the United States through the islands, up from 5 percent in 2011, said William Brownfield, assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, during a conference call with reporters.

That percentage would correlate to roughly 47 tons of cocaine. While that does not compare with the drug flow through Central America and Mexico, it has U.S. officials concerned.

“I do not wish to suggest that the amount of product flowing through the Caribbean even remotely approaches the levels of Central America and Mexico,” Brownfield said. “The disturbing thing is the trend line. The trend line has us correctly concerned,” he added.

The drug shipments originate in Colombia and Venezuela and travel by “go-fast” boats and cargo ships to the islands, with Hispaniola, the island shared by the Dominican Republic and Haiti, serving as the most sought-after transshipment point.

Last year, Dominican authorities seized nearly 10 tons of cocaine, topping the record amount it captured just a year earlier, according to the Attorney General’s office.

The increase in smuggling provides fresh evidence of the Obama administration’s forecast that the U.S.-Mexican counter-drug efforts would push drug traffickers back to the Caribbean, which served as the principal route for Colombia’s infamous Medellin cartel in the 1980s and 1990s.

The Obama administration in 2010 launched the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative, a regional security plan focused on cutting down on drug shipments. The State Department said it has committed more than $260 million to the initiative.

But traffickers are becoming bolder, sending huge amounts of cocaine, often more than a ton at a time, officials said. Budget cuts have also left authorities increasingly ill-prepared to interdict the shipments.

“Because of asset shortfalls, we’re unable to get after 74 percent of suspected maritime drug trafficking. I simply sit and watch it go by,” Marine General John F. Kelly said in a March Senate hearing. Kelly heads the Miami-based U.S. Southern Command, responsible for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Comments  

Law to debar errant contractors coming by year end – Corbin

The Public Procurement Commission (PPC) hopes that by the end of this year debarment legislation would be in place as it will soon begin meeting with stakeholders on a draft.

House passes witness protection bill

A bill to provide a legal framework for the protection of witnesses was passed without amendment by the National Assembly on Friday evening despite arguments by the parliamentary opposition that it failed to take into account modern challenges.

Over $7M seized in Soesdyke raid expected to trigger money-laundering probe

The ownership of over $7 million in local and foreign currencies and several vehicles that were all seized during a raid by the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) at Soesdyke, East Bank Demerara on Friday has raised questions and a separate probe is expected to be launched.

Exxon set to begin drilling new well

Weeks after its major oil find at the offshore Ranger-1 well in the Stabroek Block, ExxonMobil’s local subsidiary is preparing to begin drilling at the Pacora-1 well site in the same area.

For terminal cancer patients, Beacon hospice offers ray of hope

The final days for cancer patients can be consumed by pain and loneliness.

By ,

Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly.

We built stabroeknews.com using new technology. This makes our website faster, more feature rich and easier to use for 95% of our readers.
Unfortunately, your browser does not support some of these technologies. Click the button below and choose a modern browser to receive our intended user experience.

Update my browser now

×