HomeNewsAnalysisArrests Highlight Role of Dominican Crime Groups in International Drug Trade
ANALYSIS

Arrests Highlight Role of Dominican Crime Groups in International Drug Trade

CARIBBEAN / 25 APR 2017 BY PARKER ASMANN EN

Authorities say the majority of some 20 gang members detained in the Bronx neighborhood of New York City last week were Dominican, shedding light on how the low profile of gang members from the Dominican Republic has allowed their powerful transnational links to be overlooked.

Known as the "Slut Gang" ("Pandilla Puta"), several of the organization's members were arrested on April 20 and indicted on racketeering, narcotics, robbery, extortion and firearms offenses.

According to the indictment, the gang "sold narcotics, carried loaded guns, and committed acts of violence against rival gangs in the Bronx."

The gang is just one of many operating in New York City, along with the Latin Kings, Bloods, Crips, Trinitarios and the MS13.

According to a 2011 police briefing obtained in 2013 by the New York Times, Dominican gangs were estimated to have more than 1,100 members in the city.

During the operation to arrest the Slut Gang members, authorities from the New York Police Department (NYPD), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) seized crack, heroin, ecstasy (MDMA) and marijuana, in addition to guns and ammunition. 

Last year, authorities targeted two of the Slut Gang's rivals, the Big Money Bosses (BMB) and 2Fly YGz (2Fly) gangs, in the "largest street gang takedown in New York City history." 

In an unrelated operation earlier this month, the Department of Homeland Security arrested one of its own agents for allegedly trying to help Dominican drug traffickers smuggle over 100 pounds of cocaine through New York's John F. Kennedy international airport.

InSight Crime Analysis 

Despite being often overlooked, organized crime groups in the Dominican Republic have powerful transnational links that have made them players in the international drug trade.

According to the DEA's 2016 National Drug Threat Assessment, transnational crime groups in the Dominican Republic do in fact "pose a threat" to the United States, though not as much as their Mexican and Colombian counterparts. 

US-based Dominican organized crime groups primarily operate on the East Coast in cities like Philadelphia, Boston and New York. These groups receive "direct supplies of cocaine and heroin" from local groups in the Dominican Republic that work "directly with Colombian sources of supply," the DEA report states.

The DEA also notes that Colombian and Mexican drug trafficking groups rely on Dominican networks to "transport and distribute" drugs at the retail level in the United States. These groups often dominate the local drug trade as a result. For example, the DEA report states that Dominican traffickers are the "dominant retail distributors of cocaine" in the metropolitan area of New York City.

In response, Dominican and US authorities are increasing collaborative efforts to fight drug trafficking and other forms of organized crime. One of these measures is the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative, a regional effort by the United States Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), the Dominican National Drug Control Directorate (Dirección Nacional de Control de Drogas - DNCD) and the Dominican armed forces to "substantially reduce illicit trafficking."

SEE ALSO: Coverage of the Dominican Republic

While US President Donald Trump has promised to ramp up deportations of suspected gang members -- particularly those of the MS13 -- this is unlikely to have much impact on Dominican gangs' operations. Whereas deported MS13 members often return to El Salvador and re-establish the "clicas" and structures they formed in the United States, the Dominican Republic has not developed a similar problem. Rather, an intelligence source in the Dominican Republic told InSight Crime that Dominican gang members deported from the United States often become involved in transnational criminal activities, particularly drug trafficking.

The Dominican Republic's role in the drug trade is significant, and appears poised to grow in importance. During a recent trip to the capital Santo Domingo, Vice Admiral Félix Pimental, the head of the DNCD suggested to InSight Crime that up to 120 tons of cocaine were passing through the island every year, a huge percentage of which goes to Europe. This is an extraordinary amount of drugs, equivalent to about 15 percent of annual global cocaine production.

And as in the United States, Dominican crime groups play an important role in the trafficking and distribution of drugs in Europe.

In 2014, Spanish news outlet ABC described the Trinitarios, a Dominican gang operating in Madrid, as "the most dangerous gang" in the city. Indications of violent Dominican gang activity in Madrid have continued to surface in the years since.

The Trinitarios are also reportedly active in Italy. Last year a murder in Milan reportedly involving the Trinitarios prompted authorities to request that 250 soldiers be deployed to the area. According to news service Agenzia Giornalistica Italia, there has been a "bloody gang war" for several years among the Barrio 18, MS13 and Trinitarios over drug trafficking operations in the city, highlighting the transnational reach of these criminal groups.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

CARIBBEAN / 7 JAN 2013

Puerto Rico's newly-inaugurated governor has announced the deployment of the National Guard along the island's coastline, as the US…

CARIBBEAN / 20 JUL 2012

A top anti-narcotics official in the Dominican Republic has claimed that foreign mafias and cartels are at fault for the…

CARIBBEAN / 19 AUG 2021

Former police officer Jimmy Chérizier, alias "Barbecue," is one of Haiti’s most prolific gang leaders.

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Apure Investigation Makes Headlines

22 OCT 2021

InSight Crime’s investigation into the battle for the Venezuelan border state of Apure resonated in both Colombian and Venezuelan media. A dozen outlets picked up the report, including Venezuela’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.