Cuba seized more than 9 tons of drugs in 2011, marking a 300 percent increase compared to 2010.
According the state-run newspaper Granma, 9,181 kilograms of drugs were seized with roughly 9,000 kilograms being marijuana. Only just over 80 kilograms was cocaine.
Despite the sharp rise, Cuban authorities were able to stop two naval operations in which three Bahamians and one Jamaican was arrested, and prevented 22 operations running through the country’s airports which saw the arrest of another 27 people, the majority of whom were Cuban. They also detected 399 aerial drops to go-fast boats bound for the US, up from 108 in 2010.
Authorities blamed the increase in the amounts detained on high demand in the US, which it labeled “the world’s leading consumer of narcotics.” However, Cuba intimated that it is open to the signing of an anti-narcotics treaty with the US in order to help crack down on operations running through its waters.
InSight Crime Analysis
Unlike many of its Central American neighbors, Cuba does not have any notable presence of transnational drug trafficking organizations within its territory. As evidenced by the lack of cocaine in the figures, South and Central American drug cartels may not see Cuba as a key transit point to the US. Conversely, Jamaican smugglers frequently traffic marijuana through Cuban waters, much to the exasperation of Cuban authorities.
Cuba’s display of interest in an anti-narcotics treaty with the US should perhaps be taken with a pinch of salt. Given the historically frosty relationship between the two countries and their inability to fully emerge from the Cold War mentality, it seems unlikely that any proposal will gain traction until relations as a whole improve. This means it is likely that smuggling through Cuba’s maritime area will likely continue at a relatively steady rate thanks to the ill-equipped nature of Cuba’s authorities.