HomeNewsCocaine Flows from the Dominican Republic to Puerto Rico

Cocaine Flows from the Dominican Republic to Puerto Rico


Dominican authorities recently intercepted a cocaine-laden speedboat destined for Puerto Rico – the latest in a series of maritime seizures showing a flourishing drug trade between the Dominican Republic and the US territory.

The boat was pursued by authorities to a beach in the Dominican Republic’s eastern province of La Altagracia, where five people were arrested and some 450 packages of cocaine were seized, according to a Dominican National Directorate for Drug Control (Dirección Nacional de Control de Drogas - DNCD) news report published February 11. A DNCD official said in the report that the vessel and those arrested were part of a larger smuggling ring that used go-fast boats to move drugs from the Dominican Republic to Puerto Rico.

SEE ALSO: Dominican Republic and Venezuela: Cocaine Across the Caribbean

The interdiction comes after a series of seizures in Puerto Rico. In January, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents discovered 464 kilograms of cocaine on a ferry destined for San Juan. The cocaine was concealed in canvas sacks on the ferry, which set sail from the Dominican Republic, according to EFE news. In November 2021, a US Coast Guard patrol vessel intercepted a go-fast boat off the northern coast of Puerto Rico. Onboard, officials said, were 125 kilograms of cocaine and three Dominican nationals, who were arrested on drug smuggling charges.

In the first two months of 2022, Dominican authorities have seized over 3,500 kilograms of cocaine and more than 800 pounds of marijuana, according to the country’s drug control agency.

InSight Crime Analysis

The string of cocaine seizures has revealed that Dominican traffickers are employing a range of maritime smuggling methods to reach Puerto Rico, which serves as a springboard to the US mainland.

While most South American cocaine destined for the US is still smuggled through Central America and Mexico, the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) estimates that up to 8 percent is trafficked through the Caribbean. The Dominican Republic is an ideal transport hub for South American cocaine. There, it can be stashed and then moved by go-fast boats across the Mona Canal, an 80 mile stretch of water between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.

SEE ALSO: End of Lockdown Brings Wave of Cocaine to Puerto Rico

While the recent interdictions indicate that maritime law enforcement in both the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico are on alert for drug smuggling, their job is made more difficult by a massive influx of cocaine to the Dominican Republic. Between August 2020 and December 2021, Dominican authorities seized 33.7 tons of drugs, of which more than 85 percent was cocaine.

Puerto Rico is a perfect entry point for illicit shipments to the continental United States. Smugglers favor cargo ships, but have also used conventional mail, shipping services, personal luggage on commercial flights and cruise ships. As InSight Crime has previously reported, Puerto Rico’s status as a US territory means citizens can move freely between the island and the continental US, making smuggling easier.

Puerto Rico’s role as a springboard can be seen in the fact that the island, just 5,300 square miles, tallied the fourth-highest amount of cocaine seized in all US states and territories. Only California, Florida, and Pennsylvania seized more.

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.


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.


Related Content

COCAINE / 5 JAN 2021

The assassination of Albanian national Adriatik Tresa inside his luxury property in Ecuador has revealed details of his alleged criminal…

COCAINE / 24 FEB 2021

Eight Democratic senators have sent the first signals that the United States will divorce itself from Honduras President Juan Orlando…

COCAINE / 19 MAY 2022

Europe’s increasing demand for cocaine means the drug is now being producing in Europe by local criminals with help of…

About InSight Crime


Extensive Coverage of our Chronicles of a Cartel Bodyguard

23 SEP 2022

Our recent investigation, A Cartel Bodyguard in Mexico’s 'Hot Land', has received extensive media coverage.


InSight Crime, American University Host Illegal Fishing Panel

19 SEP 2022

InSight Crime and the Center for Latin American & Latino Studies (CLALS) at American University discussed the findings of a joint investigation on IUU fishing at a September 9 conference.


Impact on the Media Landscape

9 SEP 2022

InSight Crime’s first investigation on the Dominican Republic made an immediate impact on the Dominican media landscape, with major news outlets republishing and reprinting our findings, including in …


InSight Crime Sharpens Its Skills

2 SEP 2022

Last week, the InSight Crime team gathered for our annual retreat in Colombia, where we discussed our vision and strategy for the next 12 months.  During the week, we also learned how to…


Colombia’s Fragile Path to Peace Begins to Take Shape

26 AUG 2022

InSight Crime is charting the progress of President Gustavo Petro’s agenda as he looks to revolutionize Colombia’s security policy, opening dialogue with guerrillas, reforming the military and police, and…