In our April 27 Facebook Live session, Co-director Jeremy McDermott spoke with Senior Editor Mike LaSusa about InSight Crime's research and reporting on the Dominican Republic's growing role in the global drug trade.
The conversation opened with LaSusa discussing the recent arrest of several suspected Dominican gang members in New York City, which served as a reminder of the dominance Dominican gangs have asserted over the cocaine trade in the United States' biggest city, as well as in several other cities on the East Coast.
McDermott spoke about his recent research trip to the Dominican Republic, where the head of the national anti-drug police told him that as much as 120 tons of cocaine -- some 15 percent of annual global production -- flows through the island nation each year, a large percentage of which is destined to Europe where Dominican crime groups also maintain a presence in several major cities.
SEE ALSO: Coverage of the Dominican Republic
LaSusa and McDermott also discussed the role of corruption in facilitating the increasing prominence of Dominican crime groups in the international drug trade, including recent warnings from Dominican politicians about potential criminal influence in the electoral process and the conviction last year of the former head of the national anti-drug police on drug charges.
In addition to corruption, McDermott and LaSusa talked about the Dominican Republic's strategic geographic location as a major attraction to traffickers. One of the most populous nations in the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic is located near other island countries with close historical and trade ties to Europe, making them ideal transshipment points for drugs heading to the Old Continent. Political instability and corruption in nearby Venezuela is another factor that has likely contributed to increasing cocaine flows through the Dominican Republic in recent years.
The conversation concluded with McDermott predicting that the role of the Dominican Republic and Dominican crime groups in the global drug trade will only continue to grow in importance in coming years.
Watch the Facebook Live broadcast for the full conversation: