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

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC / 29 MAR 2021

Recent media reports have revealed that children from Haiti are being trafficked to the Dominican Republic in large numbers, with…

CARIBBEAN / 31 MAY 2022

Top authorities in Trinidad and Tobago have warned legislators that the Caribbean island nation is likely to see a rise…

CARIBBEAN / 13 OCT 2022

Two gangs have coordinated an amphibious attack on a key industrial area north of Haiti's capital of Port-au-Prince.

About InSight Crime

WORK WITH US

Open Position: Full Stack WordPress Developer

28 NOV 2022

As Full Stack WordPress Developer You Will: Work collaboratively with other developers and designers to maintain and improve organizational standards.Demonstrate a high level of attention to detail, and implement best…

THE ORGANIZATION

Join Us This #GivingTuesday in Exposing Organized Crime

24 NOV 2022

For over twelve years, InSight Crime has contributed to the global dialogue on organized crime and corruption. Our work has provided policymakers, analysts, academics, journalists, and the general public with…

THE ORGANIZATION

Like Crime, Our Coverage Knows No Borders

18 NOV 2022

The nature of global organized crime means that while InSight Crime focuses on Latin America, we also follow criminal dynamics worldwide. InSight Crime investigator Alessandro Ford covers the connections between Latin American and European…

THE ORGANIZATION

Using Data to Expose Crime

11 NOV 2022

Co-director Jeremy McDermott made a virtual presentation at a conference hosted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The ‘Sixth International Conference on Governance, Crime, and Justice…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime ON AIR

4 NOV 2022

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley was interviewed for the podcast The Rosenberg Case: A Tale of Murder, Corruption, and Conspiracy in Guatemala, which explores the potential involvement of then president, Álvaro Colom,…