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Security Failures in the Caribbean Are Posing Serious Threats

Security Failures in the Caribbean Are Posing Serious Threats

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Regional Security Failures in the Caribbean are Posing Serious Threats
Regional Security Failures in the Caribbean are Posing Serious Threats

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Published by: Jerry E. Brewer, Sr. on Jul 29, 2013
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10/01/2013

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Column 072913 Brewer 
 
Monday, July 29, 2013
 
Security Failures in the Caribbean are PosingSerious Threats
 
By Jerry Brewer
 
Defining the existing risks and threats to the nationsof the Caribbean Basin and the United States needsto be more than mere words that scare, intimidate orsimply cause one to turn the page and look atsomething more pleasant.The dialogue must expand beyond astronomicalhomicide rates, gang and gun violence, illicit drugtrafficking, kidnapping, extortion, human trafficking,and related violence. What might the other threats consist of and how dothey correlate?
 
 Actually, all of these have the potential to underminehopes for socio-economic development, while they continue to increase corruption at many levels of government -- including the police and military. Thisform of criminality is driven by the spokes emanatingfrom a hub of corrupt officials that grease thecorridors for illicit behavior.
 
 Within these powerful hidden enclaves of greed andpower there are networks of facilitators, serviceproviders and professionals in a blend of illegitimateand legitimate businesses that have actually crippledthe development and progress of many nations within the region. Some have professed near socialcollapse and failed state status.
 
 And it is within these diseased environments of criminality where governments and crime apparently embrace, where transnational organized crimeflourishes with worldwide markets that far exceed the
 
gross national product of many nations. This criminalconvergence manifests itself through financial andcyber-crimes, and key sectors of economies thatencroach upon and influence law and judicial sectors.
 
Enforcement and security is impacted beyond simplecorruption with the quasi-legal facilitation by professionals providing opportunities and legalloopholes, as well as avenues for the laundering of massive illicit proceeds into a free market. Theexpertise of these unscrupulous and often complicitprofessionals hinders and undermines true justice.Nations, especially in the Caribbean Basin that havethrived for decades with proceeds from tourism, have witnessed depleted government revenues from taxesand customs, slow economic growth, and decreasedforeign investment due to organized crime.Consequently, today more than ever, citizens and visitors alike must be shielded by a skilled andeffective security infrastructure to help nations andurisdictions across the hemisphere to reach their fulleconomic and growth potentials. Defining anddeveloping regional joint priorities and strategies toincrease security and the safety of the public, whilepromoting social justice and justice sector reforms,must be top priorities. Too, there must be a keenfocus on education, training and anti-corruptioninitiatives.
 
Drug traffickers from Venezuela have severely impacted anti-narcotics officials in the DominicanRepublic. The National Drugs Control Agency (DNCD) exposed an alliance between military personnel and business interests in October of 2012, with 15 arrests that included the owner of a domesticairline. The Dominican Republic was used as a hubfor drug trafficking that included payments tomilitary and air traffic controllers. Six airplanes werealso seized as part of the operation.The corridor between the Dominican Republic andPuerto Rico has given rise to a more focused druginterdiction surveillance, mainly intended to monitorgo-fast boats and other vessels.
 
 
 Although the Royal Bahamian Police Force boasts of an aggressive crime prevention plan to "reduce violence and driving [sic] down the fear of crime,"they clearly do not have sufficient resources toeffectively patrol their vast chain of islands.Over 4,000 keys, spanning the 4,800 kilometers of Cuban coastline, provide cover for speedboats andfishing vessels.
 
Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands have beenlabeled "high intensity drug trafficking areas(HIDTA)." As well, much of the drug interdictionconcentrated on Venezuela and Colombia has shiftedto drug air transportation routes from the DominicanRepublic to the eastern Caribbean. Puerto Rico is amajor commercial gateway to the US, both in termsof frequent air traffic and freighter shipments tomainland destinations.
 
Police Corruption in Puerto Rico has been rampant.The Justice Department recently pledged $10 millionto the Puerto Rican government "to combat policecorruption, extrajudicial killings and civil rights violations." Justice Department officials reportedthat from January 2005 to November 2010, there were more than 1,709 arrests of officers for chargesthat range from theft to murder and drug trafficking.
 
Transnational organized crime networks arediversifying and always expanding. They continue todestabilize countries and corrupt officials as they leave a trail of death and violence. They are primarily motivated by huge profits, power and prestige. Thesecrime groups operate through fluid networks ratherthan more formal hierarchies, which provides themincreased flexibility, low visibility, diversity andlongevity. Are we talking solely about drug trafficking? One of the major concerns is beyond drug trafficking. Recenttraining in the region (June) that involved thecoordination of 16 Caribbean nations "focused upon what they perceived was their largest problems."Much of this focused on international criminal justicecooperation lacking that allows criminal actors (on amyriad of violent criminal offenses) to escape to

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