A State Department official predicts that over the next few years traffickers will increasingly return to using the Caribbean to smuggle drugs into the U.S.

The assistant secretary of state for international narcotics and law enforcement, William Brownfield, was in Miami for a meeting of Latin American and U.S. diplomats to discuss regional security initiatives and multilateral cooperation against organized crime.

Over the last few years increased law enforcement presence and higher interdictions along the U.S.-Mexico border have caused drug traffickers to look for alternative routes. According to Brownfield, a return to the Caribbean routes, which have close proximity to supply, transit and consuming countries, would be the most logical decision for these organizations.

The Caribbean was used to ship the majority of cocaine consumed in the United States in the 1970s and 1980s. As authorities cracked down on smuggling along this maritime passageway, however, drug traffickers shifted operations to overland routes via Mexico.

Brownfield also warned that technological innovations — like the increasingly sophisticated submersibles and semi-submersibles used to traffic drugs out of South America — make interdiction more difficult and demonstrate the need for more comprehensive anti-narcotics policies.

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