HomeNewsBriefUS Plays Catch Up With Engagement Strategy in Caribbean
BRIEF

US Plays Catch Up With Engagement Strategy in Caribbean

CARIBBEAN / 26 JUN 2017 BY PARKER ASMANN EN

A new US engagement plan for the Caribbean is a sign that the major drug-consuming nation has started to plug a hole in its security and drug trafficking prevention strategies in the region.

On June 21, the United States unveiled a new aid program, "Caribbean 2020: A Multi-Year Strategy To Increase the Security, Prosperity, and Well-Being of the People of the United States and the Caribbean," to a region in the Americas that has increased in importance as a drug trafficking hub and transhipment point in recent years.

The strategy establishes the priorities of the State Department and US Agency for International Development (USAID) "in the areas of security, diplomacy, prosperity, energy, education, and health."

Regarding security, the plan is to work to "dismantle illicit trafficking networks, enhance maritime security, confront violent and organized crime, and increase the sharing of threat information among countries," according to the US Department of State.

To achieve this, the plan will rely on bilateral and regional cooperation, strengthening partnerships between government and civil society, and reinforcing crime-monitoring institutions.

InSight Crime Analysis

With this new focus, the US is finally giving some much-needed attention to a neglected region that has recently regained enormous importance in the international drug trade. 

A recent string of large drug seizures has confirmed a growth in trafficking -- in March, US Coast Guard officials seized almost 1.5 metric tons of cocaine in two operations in the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, and in June, authorities offloaded 1.1 metric tons of cocaine in Puerto Rico, seized from Dominican traffickers.

SEE ALSO: Caribbean News and Profile

In addition to increased coca production in Colombia, the Caribbean region has become increasingly important as a drug trafficking hub and transhipment point thanks in part to the growth of transnational drug trafficking in Venezuela.

The movement of cocaine from its western coasts to nations in the Caribbean has grown in line with the political and economic crisis ravaging the country, which has fed criminality throughout the regime and also created a poor, desperate, eager workforce prepared to take high risks for low pay.

InSight Crime research in the Dominican Republic shows Venezuelans are replacing Colombians as either drug mules carrying product via flights or as crew on the many speed-boats arriving on its shores. Four out of the five speedboats arriving on the DR’s coasts carrying cocaine shipments now have Venezuelans on board, according to interviews with law enforcement officials in the DR. Verny Troncoso, the lead prosecutor in charge of narcotic cases for the province of Santo Domingo, told InSight Crime that every week since late October 2016, officials have captured three to four Venezuelans arriving at the country's airports with drugs either ingested or hidden in suitcases.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Dominican Republic

Dominican transnational criminal organizations are expected to "remain a viable threat" to the US drug market, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration's 2016 National Drug Threat Assessment. Official sources on the island suggested to InSight Crime that the country was handling up to 130 tons of cocaine per year, a large percentage of which is destined for European markets.

Another factor driving traffickers back to the Caribbean are other US-funded anti-narcotic initiatives in the region. A focus on Mexico through the Merida Initiative and on Central America through the Central America Regional Security Initiative (CARSI) has encouraged drug traffickers to seek less-policed routes.

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

BRAZIL / 28 MAY 2021

Court cases. Hitmen. Interpol. International drug traffickers sometimes need to get away from it all. Brazil has sought to cater…

EL SALVADOR / 15 NOV 2016

The Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras will launch a tri-national force aimed at disrupting the movements…

CARIBBEAN / 24 FEB 2014

While the United States is increasingly protecting its land borders from drug traffickers with robot technology, coast guard cutbacks are…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Criminal Enterprise on the High Seas

12 AUG 2022

Last week, InSight Crime published the second half of an extensive investigation into Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing that plagues the waters of nine Latin American countries. Among the stories were how…

THE ORGANIZATION

Oceans Pillaged in Central America and the Caribbean

5 AUG 2022

Last week, InSight Crime published the first installment of a nine-part investigation uncovering the hidden depths of Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing in Latin America. The first installment covered Central America and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela’s Tren de Aragua Becomes Truly Transnational

29 JUL 2022

This week, InSight Crime published a deep dive into the total control that Venezuelan mega-gang, Tren de Aragua, has over the lives of those it smuggles between Venezuela and Chile…

THE ORGANIZATION

Turkish Traffickers Delivering Latin American Cocaine to Persian Gulf

15 JUL 2022

Last week, InSight Crime published the second half of an investigation piecing together the emerging role of Turkish cocaine traffickers in supplying Russia and the Persian Gulf, which are among…

THE ORGANIZATION

Turkey as a Lynchpin in European Cocaine Pipeline

8 JUL 2022

InSight Crime is extending its investigation into the cocaine pipeline to Europe, and tracking the growing connections between Latin American drug traffickers and European criminal organizations. This led us to…