Dominican Republic, Haiti to partner in counter-narcotics fight

first_imgBy Dialogo April 03, 2014 SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic – Top counter-narcotics officials in the Dominican Republic and Haiti vowed to work more closely to combat drug trafficking and money laundering on their shared Caribbean island, which international drug cartels have increasingly targeted as a transshipment point. President of the Dominican National Directorate for Drug Control Major Gen. Julio César Souffront Velázquez and Haitian National Police Chief Godson Orelus met in Santo Domingo on March 23, where they said they’d cooperate to solve shared problems on Hispaniola. Souffront Velázquez said Dominican officials are committed to assisting their Haitian counterparts by providing logistical assistance, sharing strategy and exchanging information about drug trafficking and other criminal activities. With this “measure we are confident we can form a wall against the terrible scourge of drugs that constantly threatens the peace and tranquility of our Dominican and Haitian citizens,” he said. In announcing the renewed cooperation, Souffront Velázquez said Haitian officials would have access to several Dominican initiatives, including a training academy for counter-narcotics agents, operational and logistical technologies and a canine-training facility. “In short, you can rely on all of our logistics capabilities for the detection of drug shipments and of the cartels that are seeking to use our two countries as a bridge for trafficking that creates this monster that harms our citizens,” he told the visiting Haitian delegation. “We must be permanently integrated in a joint effort with an insular view of the problem.” Orelus said the Dominican National Directorate for Drug Control (DNCD) has provided “unwavering generosity and goodwill … to help my country face this terrible drug-trafficking and money-laundering” problem. Souffront Velázquez and Orelus toured the DNCD facilities, including the Department of International Cooperation, where Haiti is considering assigning an agent permanently after a formal cooperation agreement is signed. It’s not the first time the neighboring countries have vowed to work more closely against drug trafficking. In 2012, the DNCD said it and arms of the Dominican military, including the Air Force and naval units that track drug flights and marine shipments, would share information with Haiti. Cooperation between the two countries occupying a single island with a porous border is increasingly important, as foreign narco-traffickers have started to move more illicit drugs through the Caribbean. Hispaniola is seen as the main transshipment hub for the region. Last year, Dominican authorities confiscated a record of nearly 10 metric tons of cocaine, topping the previous high for seizures in 2012, when they nabbed about nine metric tons. “You see the Mexican cartels playing an increasingly important role in the Dominican Republic,” said Daurius Figueira, a professor at the University of West Indies who studies the flow of drugs through the Caribbean and the presence of Mexican cartels. Figueira said that as Dominican-based criminal groups were dismantled, Mexicans took over. “They absorbed everything,” he said. On the other hand, Figueira said Haitian criminal organizations are increasingly involved in the Caribbean. “The Caribbean players are drawn from Jamaican and Haitian gang land,” he said. The increase in drug trafficking in the Caribbean has been noted by U.S. officials, who have seen a subtle shift in smuggling routes from the Central America-Mexico corridor to the Antilles. The commander of United States Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM), the Florida-based unit of the U.S. military that works throughout Latin America, last month testified before U.S. Congress that he was concerned about the increase in drug trafficking through the Caribbean. “We’ve seen an increase in the flow up the West Indies onward to two locations, one being the Dominican Republic,” Gen. John F. Kelly said during a briefing at the Pentagon. Once the drugs are in the Dominican Republic, “the cartels ship it onward to Europe; or what’s priceless is if they can get it into Puerto Rico.”last_img

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