More cocaine is being smuggled through the Caribbean in 2013 compared with last year, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The agency announced 14 percent of cocaine bound for the United States came through the Caribbean in the first half of 2013, double the 7 percent that was trafficked through the region in the same period in 2012.
“What we’re seeing is that traffickers are increasing the amount of cocaine in each” shipment, Vito S. Guarino, special agent in charge of the DEA’s Caribbean Division, told the Miami Herald. “This is a shift toward the Caribbean….and the picture we’re looking at right now will be the picture for the next few years.”
The Caribbean is an attractive location for drug smuggling because of its largely unguarded coasts, which smugglers use as landing points for high-speed boats carrying cocaine. Guarino said the drugs are moved to the United States and Europe through shipping containers, people carrying drugs, or by boat through Puerto Rico.
Earlier this week, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said it had dismantled a powerful drug trafficking gang based in Puerto Rico. The group allegedly earned more than $100 million moving drugs from the Dominican Republic to the United States.
William R. Brownfield, Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, told the newspaper the Caribbean trafficking corridor, popular in the 1970s and 1980s, is “still around and will begin to look more attractive” to drug trafficking organizations seeking an alternative to Central America and Mexico.
According to the DEA, the Dominican Republic received 27 metric tons of cocaine so far in 2013, compared with 22 tons last year. Overall, the amount of cocaine shipped in the Western Hemisphere decreased.