Fuerte Lesley J. McNair Washington D.C.                 TRABAJO DE INVESTIGACION ACADEMICA

    CARIBBEAN DRUG TRAFFICKING AND THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE     by   LtCol J. Brooke Taylor United States Air Force             Washington D.C., May 2000  


The Caribbean lies where Jose Marti once called “the Vortex of the Americas,” making it a bridge or front between North and South America. Geonarcotics is a concept developed that explains the multiple dynamics of the narcotics phenomenon. The term captures four factors: drugs, geography, power, and politics. Geography is a factor because of the global spatial dispersion of drug operations, and because certain geographic features facilitate certain drug operations. Power involves the ability of an individual or group to secure compliant action. This power can be both state and nonstate in source. Politics revolve around the resource allocation. Although the Caribbean drug phenomenon involves many facets of drug production, consumption and abuse, trafficking, and money laundering, it is trafficking that best highlights the region’s strategic value. Aspects of both the Caribbean’s physical and social geography make it very conducive to drug trafficking. Except for mainland Belize, French Guyana, Guyana, and Suriname, the Caribbean countries are all island territories. Some are plural island territories, such as St Vincent and the Grenadines - which comprise close to 600 islands, and the Virgin Islands - composed of about 100 islands and cays. The Bahamas is an archipelago of 700 islands and 2,000 cays. This island character permits entry into and use of Caribbean territories from hundreds of multiple

places in the surrounding sea. The Caribbean countries do not have the ability to provide adequate territorial policing and security, thus producing an extreme vulnerability to trafficking. (2) The most important location feature of the region’s physical geography is its proximity. This proximity is dual: South America as a major drug-supply source, and North America as a major drug-demand area. Illicit drugs typically move internationally from less developed areas of the world to the more developed countries, where most drug consumption takes place. Just as the growth of legitimate global businesses has been facilitated by the globalization of financial systems and market relations, drug traffickers have additionally taken advantage of the opportunities presented by the changing macro-economic environment. They have organized themselves on a global scale and put a significant amount of their drug profits in financial centers offering secrecy and attractive investment returns. Their adoption of high-tech computer and communication technology has facilitated expansion of their trade. Drug traffickers are now able to launder illicit profits by moving money around the world electronically with nominal national controls. They are aided by porous borders, due in part to policies intended to encourage trade and investment. In other cases, it is due to weak governments and weak or unenforceable laws against money laundering, fraud or organized crime. The trade of illicit drugs has quite a variety of adverse socioeconomic and political effects. These activities can occasionally undermine the legal economy by contributing to an overvalued exchange rate. They contribute to increased crime and social disruption on all levels, and their adverse effects can be intensified by drug control laws. Most of the benefits and liabilities associated with the trade of drugs ultimately derives from illegality, a condition which the drug control laws establish. Illegality provides what has been called the “crime tax” the difference between legal and illegal price markets. This “tax” is reaped principally by traffickers, but they pass on a sufficient proportion

to peasant growers which creates incentives for drug crop production. (3) Why do people traffic in illicit drugs, and how are they able to do so on such a large scale? While one incentive is the money that is to be made in servicing consumer demand for drugs, other factors are also involved. The structure of society, the nature of political power, the impact of economic policy, and the resistance of the cultural fabric to private drug consumption and public corruption – are all factors that influence how successfully illicit drugs can be traded.

Two or three decades ago, much of the illegal drug distribution consisted of small-time traffickers, including tourists, who picked up a few hundred grams of heroin or cocaine or a kilogram of marijuana from a producer and distributed the product directly to casual contacts and personal friends. They would then pass along small amounts, some of it for financial gain. Although a proportion of the trade in drugs is still carried out in this manner, trafficking is increasingly organized, particularly at the wholesale and intermediary levels. A few large, vertically integrated, multinational illicit drug distribution organizations existed as early as the 1930s. Such trafficking is now increasingly facilitated by sophisticated organization and distribution techniques able to counter the technology currently available to law enforcement agencies. (3) The presence and influence of Colombian trafficking organizations’ in the Caribbean is overwhelming. The Caribbean has been a long time favorite smuggling route used by the Cali and Medellin crime groups to smuggle thousands of tons of cocaine to the United States. During the late 1970’s and the 1980’s, drug lords from Medellin and Cali, Colombia established a network of smuggling routes throughout the central Caribbean, including Haiti, the Dominican Republic and the Bahamian Island chain to South Florida, using a variety of techniques to smuggle their cocaine to U. S. markets.

The nature of the international drug trade has changed a great deal over the past fifteen years. At the height of the cocaine epidemic, the manufacturing and importation of the product was controlled by the group of traffickers from Medellin, Colombia. The bold violence and political fervor stunned the world. Beginning in the late 1970s, the major cocaine trafficking organizations based in Colombia generally relied on the intricate smuggling network which facilitated shipment of multi-tons of cocaine through the Caribbean. These traffickers also accumulated great wealth and they invested heavily in luxury products and property within the United States. Until July 1991, when a new Constitution in Colombia was adopted, members of the Medellin cartel were truly fearful of the threat of extradition to the United States. Thus, they successfully bribed and intimidated officials in the Government of Colombia to outlaw their extradition. Three important changes in drug trafficking have had major negative results on the Western Hemisphere. First is the orchestrated efforts by traffickers based in Mexico to saturate markets with methamphetamine. Secondly, the Colombian traffickers’ aggressive production and marketing of strong, pure heroin. Lastly, is the reemergence of well established trafficking routes and methods in the Caribbean. (1)

There is an obvious straightforward connection between drug trafficking and crime. Traffickers’ activities are linked to what is termed “systemic violence”. The drug syndicates, gangs and smugglers who aptly secure, launder and guard money continue to attempt obtaining and preserving positions of power by whatever means are necessary. Traffickers, not consumers, commit most of the drug-related homicides. They are able to use the billions of dollars within their command to attempt to corrupt, subvert or eliminate institutions and people who stand in their way. (3) Professor Ivelaw Griffith in his 1997 publication “Drugs and Security in the Caribbean” states that drugs present a clear danger to the Caribbean and that the illicit drug phenomenon cannot be viewed outside the context of contemporary economic, social and political developments. In ways very similar to their counterparts in legal enterprises, criminal organizations involved within illicit drugs respond to those opportunities created by a globalizing market economy. In fact, according to Griffith, traffickers in some countries have repeatedly owned larger and more sophisticated resources than the police or the military. Drug trafficking, with its related domestic and transnational criminal activities, continues to place a great deal of pressure on various institutions - including those responsible for security and law enforcement. On several islands, the governments have invited organizations such as New Scotland Yard, the DEA and the FBI to assist

them in dealing with the problem. In the Eastern Caribbean, the smaller islands are being used as stepping stones towards the bigger markets of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands - both designated by the DEA as High Density Trafficking Areas. Corruption is another drug-related activity that impacts on the security of the Caribbean region. It involves acts of commission and omission which breach the laws that deviate from accepted social, economic and political norms. Corruption has developed violence and uncertainty about the loyalty of forces of law and order. Furthermore, corruption at the highest levels, money laundering and related drug activities are leading society dangerously close to the possible collapse of civil society. (4)

Money laundering is the process used by many drug traffickers to convert bulk amounts of drug profits into legitimate monies. The need to launder conspicuously large amounts of small-denomination bills places the traffickers in a vulnerable situation with law enforcement interdiction. Tracking and interpreting this illegal flow of drug money is an important tool for identifying and dismantling international drug trafficking organizations. As we know, the Caribbean’s geography, political stability, social tranquility, and development needs have made it vulnerable to narcotics money laundering. Offshore banking developed as an industrious service sector in some countries that lacked natural resources. But while these countries attempt to make themselves economically viable, the criminal elements are exploiting the same mechanisms for money laundering. In fact, banking and non-banking institutions are being used profusely. For example, travel agencies, fruit shops, finance companies, and casinos are amongst the profitable illegal businesses. It is stated in an article entitled “The Illicit Drug Trade in the Caribbean” that the revenue collected by the Cali drug cartel within the USA is calculated to be $6 billion – at least half of which is estimated to be laundered through countries in the Caribbean. (4)

The international drug trafficking syndicates that are operating today are more powerful and sophisticated than most any criminal enterprise our nations have previously faced. They are well-organized, influential and extremely savvy - relying on a worldwide network of personnel, technological assets and financial resources that handsomely rival those held by international businesses. Traffickers are highly mobile and basically unrestricted by national boundaries. They often shift their laboratories and trade routes virtually at will, preferring to go where national governments are least in control. When the Colombian government cracked down on its drug operators, they took up temporary residence in Bolivia, Miami, Panama or Peru and directed their operations from there. (3) Today, independent groups of traffickers from the Northern Valle dal Cauca and splinter groups from the Cali syndicate have given rise to prominence. These groups are responsible for huge volumes of cocaine and heroin being shipped to the United States through the Caribbean. Trafficking groups based in Mexico normally will charge Colombian traffickers 50% of each shipment to transport their product through Mexico to the U.S. Meanwhile, groups from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic offer the same service for as little as 20%. Thus, many groups from Colombia, particularly those who have risen to

power since the Cali syndicate’s fall, have returned to the traditional smuggling routes in the Caribbean. This has resulted in larger shipments of cocaine transiting the Caribbean Sea. Seizures of 500 to 2,000 kilograms of cocaine are common in and around Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are the United States’ southern most points of entry, and thus provide an excellent gateway for drugs destined for cities on the East Coast of the United States. More importantly, Puerto Rico’s commonwealth status means that once a shipment of cocaine reaches Puerto Rico, it may not be subjected to further United States Customs Service (USCS) inspection en route to the continental U.S. Today, Colombian cocaine and heroin traffickers have transformed Puerto Rico into the largest staging area in the Caribbean for smuggling Colombian cocaine and heroin into the United States. In the past, the role of traffickers from the Dominican Republic was limited to being “pick up crews” and couriers who assisted the Puerto Rican smugglers in their drug smuggling ventures. Most of this has changed with the evolution of drug trading over the last three years. The new breed of Dominican traffickers function as smuggler, transporter, and wholesaler in many U.S. cities on the Eastern Coast. In the last year, criminals from the Dominican Republic have emerged as the dominant force in the mid-level cocaine and heroin trade on the East Coast of the U.S. As in the case with the Dominican Republic, Haiti presents an ideal location for the staging and transshipment of drugs. There is effectively no border control between the two countries, allowing essentially unimpeded drug traffic. The vast amount of the South American drug traffic arriving in Haiti is transported across the porous border of the Dominican Republic, and then on to Puerto Rico by Dominican transportation groups. Once the heroin and cocaine reaches the Dominican Republic, the Dominican groups take control over both smuggling the drugs into the U.S. and carrying out an increasing percentage of wholesale and retail distribution along the East Coast. (1)

For more than two decades, the Bahamas, Belize, and Jamaica dominated the business of trafficking. The Bahamas has an excellent strategic location in the airline flight path between Colombia and South Florida. For a typical cocaine trafficking mission, aircraft depart from the north coast of Colombia and arrive in the Bahamas 4 to 5 hours later. The cargo is dropped to waiting vessels, or for later collection and placement on vessels, and then the final run is made to a U.S. point of entry. However, this is not the only trafficking method. More recently traffickers have been using other tactics, including use of Cuban waters to evade OPBAT (Operation Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos) measures. Drug law enforcement authorities from the Bahamas, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and the United States continue their successful 14year operation conducting joint patrols in Bahamian and surrounding waters. OPBAT enforcement teams include Bahamian officers who provide local enforcement authority, plus U.S. Army and US Coast Guard personnel who provide helicopter support for the teams. Additionally, U.S.-Bahamian agreements allow U.S. authorities to engage patrols in and near Bahamian waters where they may exercise jurisdiction over non-Bahamian vessels. OPBAT successes have contributed to a shifting of trafficker smuggling methods from aircraft delivery to a less detectable method – maritime smuggling. Aircraft landing and unloading in the Bahamas remains rare. The only trafficker aircraft that continues to land in the Bahamas are flights originating from Jamaica. Air traffic between

Jamaica and the Bahamas is more difficult to detect because of the proximity of the islands and the ability of low-flying aircraft to avoid radar. The Dominican Republic continues to be a transshipment area for cocaine. A number of favorable factors contribute to the nation’s popularity with cocaine traffickers. It lies 61 nautical miles from Puerto Rico, making smuggling by fishing boat to Puerto Rico fairly simple. Additionally, the country’s long coastline and dense thickets of mangroves are ideal areas for airdrops and noncommercial smuggling from Colombia and Venezuela. It also shares a long and sometimes desolate border with Haiti. Despite US Coast Guard patrols off the northern coast of Haiti, maritime shipments of cocaine continue to reach Haiti’s shores. Drug traffickers exploit Haiti’s numerous uncontrolled airstrips, an unguarded coastline, and a remote interior. Puerto Rico remains the primary eastern Caribbean destination for multi-ton cocaine shipments. Both Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are attractive staging points, given the fact that domestic commercial cargo shipments between these U.S. territories and the continental U.S. ordinarily are not subject to US Customs inspection. Additionally, these Islands are destinations for cocaine air-dropped elsewhere in the eastern Caribbean – primarily in the Sabra Bank area (St Martin, St Kitts, and Sabra), and near Anguilla and Antigua. From these drop zones, cocaine is transported to Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands by go-fast boats. (5) The geography and topography of Belize also makes the country ideal for drug smuggling. Apart from a long coast line and contiguous borders with Guatemala and Mexico, two major heroin and marijuana producers, there are dense unpopulated jungle areas and numerous inland waterways. Moreover, there are about 140 isolated airstrips and virtually no radar coverage beyond a 30-mile radius of the international airport at Belize City.

Jamaica has long been key to the drug trade, given its long coastline, its proximity to the United States, its many ports, harbors, and beaches, and its closeness to the Yucatan and Windward Passages. Jamaica’s west and south coast are the most popular areas for air trafficking. Apart from landings on strips designed or adapted for drug operations, landings have been made on roads, in cane fields, and on legal strips owned by bauxite and sugar companies. The Jamaica Defense Force has destroyed close to 100 illegal airstrips, but given the heavy limestone in many of the popular landing areas, operators are often able to make fields serviceable within 10 days of destruction. Most of the cocaine air operations using Jamaica over the last few years have involved San Andres and Bogota in Colombia, the Bahamas, Panama, and Curacao. Traffickers do not rely only on illegal flights; legal commercial flights are also used. Particularly popular, and problematic for Jamaican officials, was the commercial link between San Andres and Montego Bay. That connection was severed in September 1994, but there are still commercial flights linking Jamaica and Bogota. Although the Bahamas, Belize, and Jamaica are still important drug trafficking centers, countermeasures there and in South and Central America have prompted traffickers to seek and develop alternative routes. This has brought eastern and southern Caribbean countries into greater prominence since the early 1990s. The shifts are of such a magnitude that, in November 1994, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands were designated by the United States as High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTAs). Moreover, because of the increased drug activity, in July 1995 the DEA upgraded its presence in Puerto Rico from “office” to Field Division, thus increasing its staffing and assigning a special agent to oversee the Caribbean. Several factors explain Haiti’s trafficking vulnerability and involvement: geographic location, poorly monitored coasts, mountainous interior, about 20 unpatrolled airstrips, inadequate law enforcement resources, and corruption. In Haiti, the complicity of

military and other officials has been well established. Haiti has reportedly been used for a bridge to the United States, with both the flights and the cargo protected by the military. Guyana has recently become an important center of operations. Like other Caribbean countries, Guyana’s trafficking use saw its graduation from marijuana to cocaine and heroin. The air, sea and land routes developed for smuggling contraband in Guyana from Brazil, Venezuela, and Suriname have now been adapted to narcotics trafficking. A further complication is the fact that the borders with these neighboring countries are very long. Moreover, traffickers are able to take advantage of the country’s large size, the coastal habitation, and absence of adequate manpower and equipment to police the territory. For example, there are 92 legal airports (private and public), most of them in remote parts of the country where the physical and social geography provides clear advantages for traffickers. Guyana’s physical geography makes it also vulnerable to maritime trafficking. Guyana, whose name is derived from an Amerindian word that means “Land of Many Waters,” has hundreds of inland rivers and creeks. Moreover, there are 13 huge rivers that flow into the Atlantic Ocean, and each of those rivers has a network of tributaries. The maritime traffic is also facilitated by the fact that the network of rivers also runs into Brazil, Suriname, and Venezuela. In effect, the state lacks the power to exercise proper political and territorial jurisdiction over the nation. Top army, coast guard, and police officials in many parts of the region have expressed frustration at not only the inability to adequately protect their countries’ borders against trafficking, but also at being the pawns of traffickers who often create successful small interdiction diversions in order to execute large operations. (6)

Traffickers have continued to use intermodal means of transport, frequently concealing larger shipments in commercial maritime containerized or bulk cargo. They also use fishing vessels to convey multimetric-ton shipments from Colombia to Mexico. Traffickers use specially designed vessels to smuggle cocaine from Colombia to northern Caribbean islands or Puerto Rico. Cocaine is smuggled through the Caribbean by air and sea, often moved in the direction of Puerto Rico where it is repackaged and staged for direct shipment to major U.S. east coast markets. Seaborne smuggling operations consist primarily of go-fast boats that depart from Colombia’s north coast and Venezuela, typically carrying between 800and 1,200-kilogram shipments of cocaine. Sailing and fishing vessels also are used, although to a more limited extent. These vessels depart the North Coast of Colombia, hug the Venezuelan coast, and either proceed directly to Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, or Haiti, or keep close to the coasts of the eastern Caribbean islands until they reach their final destinations. Traveling up the island chains allows traffickers to blend with other vessel traffic, which minimizes opportunities for detection. Vessels sometimes off-load to locally built open fishing boats (known as “yolas”) positioned from 40 to 150 nautical miles off the coast of Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, or in the Leeward Islands. The “yolas” proceed to Puerto Rico and off-load cocaine on Puerto Rico’s east coast. General aviation aircraft typically fly from airstrips in eastern Colombia’s Vichada Department, overflying Venezuela on the way to delivery sites in the vicinity of the northern Lesser Antilles, the Virgin

Islands, Puerto Rico, or the Dominican Republic. Other aircraft flying from Colombia’s North Coast reportedly air-drop waterproof bundles of cocaine in the vicinity of the Bahamas. Airdrops typically are made to waiting boat crews, who then deliver the cocaine to shore. From staging points in the Caribbean, smugglers then deliver the cocaine by sea to southern Florida. Traffickers frequently attempt to circumvent inspection by altering shipping documents at intermediate transshipment points, and by using counterfeit customs seals. They also use a variety of concealment methods to ship cocaine within maritime cargo. Bulk cargo ships frequently are used to smuggle cocaine to staging sites in the western Caribbean area. These vessels are typically coastal freighters that carry an average cocaine load of approximately 2.5 metric tons. The most common storage location for cocaine is in hidden compartments within fuel or ballast tanks. Modifications sometimes are made to the structure of the vessel, which makes access to hidden compartments impossible without literally tearing the vessel apart. Additionally, compartments in some cases are mounted on the exterior of the ships. Commercial fishing vessels also are well-suited for mother ship operations because they typically have capacities for large shipments and are equipped with sophisticated navigation and communication instruments. Consequently, they do not require refitting that indicates the vessel’s roles in smuggling operations. Fishing vessels also are able to stay at sea for long periods and travel long distances. Additionally, fishing vessels are difficult to monitor and tight-knit fishing communities make infiltration by drug law enforcement authorities difficult. Noncommercial maritime vessels used by traffickers tend to be locally available vessels that could blend into the local surroundings. In areas with a high volume of recreational traffic, smugglers use the same types of boats as the local population, such as go-fast boats and “yolas”. Additionally, smugglers operate during weekends and at other times of peak boating activity to blend in with local traffic.

Smugglers also make attempts to avoid detection by operating at night without navigation lights. Smugglers receive off-loads during atsea transfers from mother ships that arrive from source countries, and then land with the cocaine at marinas, isolated inlets, bays, bayous, beaches, or other areas that would hinder surveillance. Landing sites typically are located near major roads that connect to interstate highway systems thus providing smugglers with easy access to escape routes. Maritime craft known as low-profile vessels (LPVs) also are used to smuggle cocaine to Puerto Rico. LPVs are small, sleek vessels that ride low in the water and often have light gray camouflage paint schemes – all factors that make LPVs difficult to spot at sea at distances of over 1.5 nautical miles. Aircraft are used to transport cocaine from South America both to staging sites in Mexico, Puerto Rico, elsewhere in the Caribbean and, on occasion, directly to the United States. Aircraft used in flights to Mexico and the Caribbean most commonly are dual-engine, general aviation aircraft. Traffickers continue to transship cocaine through Belize by airdrop and maritime vessel for further transshipment to the United States, either directly or through Mexico, Jamaica, or the Cayman Islands. The country’s 370-mile coastline, 100-plus unmonitored airstrips, and 2 deep-water ports make Belize particularly accessible to traffickers. (5) The Bahamas remains a central conduit for air and maritime shipments of drugs moving through the Western and Central Caribbean to the Southeast United States. Transportation groups located in the Bahamas utilize a variety of methods to move cocaine from the islands to the United States. Colombian traffickers air drop shipments of cocaine off the coast of Jamaica, or utilize boat to boat transfers on open seas.

Transportation groups from Jamaica and the Bahamas sometimes use canoes to smuggle their payloads into the Bahama chain, frequently using the territorial waters of Cuba to shield their movement. The cocaine is then transferred to pleasure craft which disappear into the inter-island boat traffic. Traffickers also use twin-engine turbo-prop aircraft, with long range capability and Global Positioning Systems (GPS), which pinpoint drop zones and meeting spots in the middle of the ocean. Cellular telephones are used to minimize their exposure to interdiction assets and ensure the smooth transfer of their cocaine cargo for shipment into the United States. (1)

Drug trafficking brings out the creativity and ingenuity of drug operators and the people who scheme with them. People have used every possible orifice of the human anatomy, every possible piece of clothing, all manner of fruits and vegetables, and a variety of craft, furniture, and other items for the conveyance of drugs. There are people – called swallowers or mules – who specialize in the use of their stomach and intestines. Drugs have also been found in fish, rice, cake, pepper sauce, coconuts, yams, bananas, coffee beans, cheese, butter, beer, juice, cigarettes, vegetables, detergent, furniture, lumber, piñatas, mannequins, cloth, mail, ceramic tiles, ice cream, shampoo, mouthwash, video tapes, coat hangers, rum, and endless other objects. People of all ages and sexes are involved in trafficking, and old women are sometimes used, because they do not fit the trafficker “profile” used by law enforcement agencies. Some operations are very sophisticated, using digital encryption devices, high-frequency transmitters, cellular telephones, beepers, radar tracking devices, flares or sensors for air drops, and additional equipment. Some trafficking is done individually, but most of it is conducted through networking. Most of the networks could not exist or succeed without the collusion of people in government and private agencies in various positions and at all hierarchical levels in

organizations such as: shipping companies, customs and immigration agencies, warehouses, police forces, the military, airlines, export and import companies, stores, cruise ships, trucking companies, and factories. (2)

A wide range of coping strategies to counter drug trafficking is being adopted. Countermeasures are multi-dimensional, multi-level, and multi-actor - a reflection of the nature and scope of the immense drug phenomenon. They must be multidimensional because drug operations and their impact are multidimensional; they must be multilevel – national, regional, and international – because drug operations and many of the problems they precipitate are both national and transnational; and they must be multi-actor for the two above reasons, plus the fact that countries lack the necessary individual capabilities to meet the threats and challenges. National countermeasures are wide-ranging in scope and sufficiently substantive in character. They include: law enforcement, education, interdiction, demand reduction, rehabilitation, intelligence, crop substitution, airport and seaport management, financial services regulation, and legislation. There is no region-wide standard for most of the countermeasures, although countries emulate other successful models elsewhere and common practices do exist. The type and impact of the countermeasures introduced depend essentially on three things: perceptions of the predicament, national capability, and foreign support. Public sector resources may be insufficient to design and implement narcotics countermeasures. This is more so due to the fact that countermeasures need to be both multidimensional and simultaneous. Education, rehabilitation, interdiction, and other measures should be applied at the same time.

Most countries have thus adopted an inclusive approach, actively reaching out locally to Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and corporate agencies for partnership in countermeasures. Generally, though, foreign state and non-state assistance is still necessary. In some cases the foreign support becomes so central to programs that its withdrawal can result in the program’s collapse. Foreign assistance is not only bilateral, but also multilateral. Aid sometimes comes from places with generally little interest in the Caribbean, which suggests that the rationale behind the assistance may not be for the specific country getting it. Virtually all Caribbean countries have national drug councils that are supposed to set policies on their countermeasures. They usually are composed of officials from multiple government bodies as well as NGOs and the private sector. The National Council on Drug Abuse (NCDA) of Jamaica, the Programa para la Prevencion del Uso Indebido de Drogas (PROPUID) of the Dominican Republic, the National Advisory Council on Drugs (NACD) of Guyana, the National Council for Drug Abuse Prevention (NaCoDAP) of the Netherlands Antilles, and the National Drug Council (NDC) of the Bahamas are a few examples of these organizations. Caribbean countries participate in various regional and international networks. Some of them, like the Inter-American Drug Action Task Force (CFATF), the OAS Money Laundering Expert Group (OAS-MLEG), and the United Nations Drug Control Program (UNDCP) are solely devoted to combating drugs. For some of them, such as the Association of Caribbean Commissioners of Police (ACCP), drugs are part of a much wider mandate. Like national efforts, regional and international initiatives are multidimensional, covering the very areas that are dealt with nationally. But unlike the national level, regional and international operations see less INGO (International Non Governmental Organizations) involvement, and more from the states and NGOs. `As of May 1996, all Caribbean countries except Belize and Cuba had ratified the 1988 Convention. This ratification is now viewed

by the international community as a litmus test of commitment for battling drugs. Thus Caribbean countries are very good international citizens. Yet this is but a part of the reality. There is a point beyond ratification where Caribbean countries appear delinquent. More critical than ratification of treaties is the execution of their provisions, and most all Caribbean countries are remiss with this for various reasons. The reasons include administrative lethargy, technical and financial limitations, plus lack of other needed resources. About 90 percent of the regional and international countermeasures involve foreign support by states, NGOs, and INGOs within various combinations. Because the regional and international agencies involved recognize the importance of coordinating their assistance, the Bridgetown Group was formed. The Bridgetown Group, centered in the Barbados capital, includes representatives from the American, British, Canadian, Dutch, and French diplomatic missions in Barbados, the OAS, and the UNDCP (UN Drug Control Program). The success of the Bridgetown Group has led to the creation of four additional groups: the Georgetown Group (in Guyana); the Port of Spain Group (in Trinidad and Tobago); the Santo Domingo Group (in the Dominican Republic); and the Kingston Group (in Jamaica). Most Caribbean countries have also signed Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLATs) with the United States, among them Antigua-Barbuda, Jamaica, Bahamas, Belize, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Haiti, Suriname, St Kitts-Nevis, and Trinidad and Tobago. MLATs provide for training, joint interdiction, asset sharing, extradition, intelligence, and material/technical support. Some agreements provide for ship-rider arrangements, which allows Caribbean military and police personnel to sail aboard U.S. Coast Guard ships. The agreements authorize the boarding of suspect vessels in the Caribbean waters and allows the arrest of suspects and confiscation of their drugs. It is useful to note that although no formal agreements exist between Cuba and the United States, occasionally there has been some meaningful antidrug cooperation. Other bilateral narcotics treaties also exist. Belize, for example, has agreements with Mexico for exchange of intelligence. Bilateral

agreements also exist between Suriname and Colombia, Cuba and Guyana, Suriname and Guyana, Venezuela and Guyana, Suriname and the Netherlands, Cuba and Jamaica, Trinidad/Tobago and Venezuela, Jamaica and Mexico, and Cuba and Panama. Caribbean countries also are a part of several international counternarcotics regimes. Among these are the following: the 1961 United Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs; the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances; the 1972 Protocol amending the 1961 Convention and the 1988 Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances. The Conventions include provisions on drug trafficking, money laundering, organized crime, and related issues, such as arms trafficking. The Conventions require states that are a part of it to strengthen laws concerning financial reporting, extradition, asset forfeiture, and other subjects. It also urges adherents to improve cooperation in intelligence, interdiction, eradication, and many other areas. The way the United States pursues some of its unilateral and joint countermeasures has often been a problem for some of the Caribbean countries. United States law enforcement officials are known to have pursued suspects into the territorial waters of Caribbean countries, making arrests in those countries’ jurisdictions - sometimes without a courtesy notification of the arrest. There has often been basic coercion by U.S. agencies in the selection of personnel for local drug enforcement operations, and in the design and implementation of countermeasures. There is considerable “muddling through” in the design and implementation of narcotics countermeasures in this region. Various factors account for this: capability limitations, administrative lethargy, a “rock-and-hard-place” dilemma in which policy makers find themselves (partly because drug operations have both negative and positive aspects), and the fact that decisions about many national programs are not made solely by local elites. Also, there is a troubling sense of fatalism in some places, which is dangerous for several reasons. It adversely affects the psychological buoyancy of people involved in combating drugs, it contributes to greater cynicism in the general population of countries,

and it emboldens drug operators with the possibility that they might increase the scope of their operations in the region. National Master Plans are considered the ideal tools for establishing national strategies and mechanisms for combating drugs. There are Master Plans in over 18 places, including Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Grenada, the Netherlands Antilles, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, St Vincent and the Grenadines, St Lucia, AntiguaBarbuda, the British Virgin Islands, Haiti, Belize, Anguilla, Barbados, Turks and Caicos, Aruba, Bermuda, Dominica, and Cuba. However, there are problems with Master Plans, one of which the United Nations International Drug Control Program (UNDCP) notes: “A severe lack of consistent, pertinent, reliable, and comprehensive data on drug abuse and trafficking seriously inhibits proper assessment of the actual situation, and precludes planning of appropriate counter-measures.” (2)

  Intelligence and interdiction measures are extremely costly and involve considerable technology, which Caribbean countries lack. This partly explains the sustained and extensive United States role. ROTHR – Relocatable-Over-The-Horizon Radar – originally was designed to track Soviet bombers. It can scan many times further than conventional radar. As a prototype, ROTHR was established in Virginia in April 1993. Then a second system in Texas underwent final testing during September 1995. Puerto Rico is the site of a third ROTHR. The Pentagon explains that the first two sites can scan 2,000 miles on a clear day and 1,600 miles on a day with atmospheric disturbances. Thus, they can usually sweep most of the Caribbean, Central America, northern Colombia, and Venezuela. ROTHR uses a technology different than the conventional lineof-site microwave radar. It works by bouncing signals off the ionosphere (the outer region of the atmosphere that begins about 30 miles from the earth). ROTHR costs $12 million for each system, with annual operating costs between $12 million and $14 million per facility. (2) Forward Operating Locations (FOLs) are staging areas for aircraft involved in the international effort to combat area narcotraffickers. FOLs use existing airport facilities owned and operated by Latin American and Caribbean countries. They are made available for the international counter drug campaign. Aircraft operating out of FOLs have very sophisticated equipment onboard to detect, monitor, and track aircraft or vessels engaged in illicit drug trafficking. Aircraft overflying national airspace have representatives onboard from those countries who

serve as communication links between the aircraft and the country’s law enforcement authorities. Either on the ground and in the air, they interdict and apprehend the targeted narco-trafficker. Aircraft that stage out of FOLs act upon information received in the operational plans drawn up by a command and control center located in Key West, FL. The center is international in scope and concept with officers from various Western Hemisphere nations integrated into the command. The entire program is part of the international counternarcotics effort agreed to by all the presidents of the Western Hemisphere nations during the Miami and Santiago Summits in 1994 and 1998, and the United Nations General Assembly “Special Session on Counternarcotics” held in June 1998. There are currently three FOLs: Curacao, Aruba, and Manta, Ecuador. Other places will possibly be designated in the future after appropriate diplomatic consultations. Effective intelligence also supports law enforcement efforts against the independent cocaine and heroin trafficking organizations in Colombia, and the splinter groups from the Cali organization, which are ultimately supplying the majority of cocaine to the Eastern United States. While building cases against these criminal groups, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) will employ intelligence gained from its investigation in coordination with the Coast Guard, Treasury Department, and Department of Defense. This makes it possible to substantially step up interdiction of smuggled drugs at geographic and transportation choke points along maritime routes and at ports of entry. (1) Many Caribbean countries, including Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Dominican Republic, Grenada, and Guyana, already have United States sponsored Joint Information Coordinating Centers (JICCs). These are linked electronically with the DEA operational and analysis center in Texas, called the El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC). However, several Caribbean officials have stressed the importance of having a system within the region to serve the region since most of the JICC intelligence data flows are unidirectional from the Caribbean JICCs to the EPIC. (2)

In 1995, the DEA established its Caribbean Division based in San Juan, Puerto Rico as its 21st field division. As traffickers operating in this area began to have a serious impact on the United States by controlling the sale of multi-hundred kilogram shipments of cocaine and heroin, it became clear that a re-invigorated strategy to attack all aspects of the drug trade in this region needed to be instituted. The Caribbean Corridor Initiative, now a major part of the Southern Frontier Initiative, was created to disrupt and ultimately dismantle criminal organizations that smuggle any illicit drugs into the United States through the Caribbean Corridor. This corridor consists of the islands of Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, and the Lesser Antilles (Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao). It had become increasingly more important as a smuggling route for Colombia-based trafficking organizations as a result of U.S. law enforcement success along its Southwest Border. Data also shows that Puerto Rico has become a major transshipment point for Colombian heroin destined for the United States. Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and the Netherlands Antilles are, additionally, major money laundering centers. (1) The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) maintains foreign offices in the Caribbean at Freeport, Bahamas; Nassau, Bahamas; Bridgetown, Barbados; Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; Port-au-Prince, Haiti; Kingston, Jamaica; Curacao, Netherlands Antilles; and Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago.

DEA also has identified four major organizations based on the northern coast of Colombia that have deployed command and control cells in the Caribbean Basin to funnel tons of cocaine to the United States every year. Colombian managers, who have been dispatched to Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, operate these command and control centers which are responsible for overseeing drug trafficking in their region. These groups also direct networks of transporters that oversee the importation, storage, exportation, and wholesale distribution of cocaine destined for the continental United States. (12) The DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) supports its foreign counterparts’ investigations by providing information such as who controls the drug trade; how the drugs are distributed; and how the profits are being laundered. It also provides information as to how the entire worldwide drug system operates at the source level, transportation level, wholesale and retail levels. One major U.S. federal effort is the Joint Information Coordination Centers program. They provide computer hardware and software, as well as training, to 20 host country nationals overseas - primarily in Central America, South America and the Caribbean. This program enables these countries to establish intelligence-gathering centers of their own and is modeled after the Drug Enforcement Agency’s El Paso Intelligence Center. Additional resources have allowed DEA to increase their technological edge and address some critical infrastructure needs that support their international investigation. With the growing sophistication of today’s internationally based and national drug trafficking organizations, law enforcement (including DEA) relies heavily on investigative tools such as Title III wiretaps to successfully investigate the major drug trafficking organizations. DEA has also developed sophisticated methods to compile investigative information which ensures all leads are properly followed up and coordinated through their Special Operations Division (SOD). This mechanism allows all DEA field divisions and foreign offices to capitalize on investigative information from various sources as cases develop. Numerous major cases have been developed with the assistance of the

SOD, which increasingly is a central player in cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin investigations. DEA has also provided a communication system, known as Unicorn, which allows the island nations to exchange drug enforcement information amongst themselves. This same system is also linked to the larger Information and Coordination Center, which is based in Puerto Rico. DEA special agents are assisting their foreign counterparts by developing sources of information and interviewing witnesses. Agents work undercover and assist in surveillance efforts on cases that involve drug trafficking which affects the United States. They provide information about drug traffickers to their counterparts and pursue investigative leads by checking out hotel, airport, shipping, and passport records. In addition, when host country authorities need to know the origin of seized illicit drugs, DEA agents ship the drugs back to DEA facilities in the United States for laboratory analysis. Also, the DEA, in collaboration with federal prosecutors, seeks U.S. indictments against major foreign traffickers who have committed crimes against American citizens. The DEA actively participates in various international forums to promote international law enforcement cooperation. One forum is the annual International Drug Enforcement Conference (IDEC) that brings together upper-level drug law enforcement officials from South, Central, and North America, as well as the Caribbean. They share drug-related intelligence and develop operational strategies that can be used against international drug traffickers. The yearly conferences focus on the areas of common concern such as the growing sophistication of drug trafficking organization and money laundering. (1)

The Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) continues to play a key role in combating illicit drugs. The many countries of the region have acknowledged the need to strengthen international cooperation and to constantly review and enhance national policies, taking into account the particular problems in each individual country. In 1996, the member states approved the Antidrug Strategy in the Hemisphere, a multilateral instrument that represents the commitment to face the multiple facets and manifestations of the immense drug problem in the region. Similarly, the Second Summit of the Americas issued an appeal for the OAS to address the issue of a multilateral alliance against drugs from an integral perspective. The OAS (Organization of American States) recognizes that the best way to strengthen multilateral efforts to combat drugs is by integrating them with the many social objectives, given that the harmful effects of drug abuse and trafficking not only impact on one group of countries but definitely affect every sector of society. Phenomenon like violence, terrorism, or corruption, which are all exacerbated by drug trafficking, constitute a threat to each society as a whole. The strengthening of judicial systems, education, and increased awareness

about the destructive effects of drugs, the creation of development programs, and the treatment and rehabilitation of users as an important means of reducing demand, are all key pieces of the hemispheric strategy to combat drugs. As part of this new approach and by virtue of the mandate of the Second Summit of the Americas, the OAS developed a single, objective process of multilateral government evaluation. This is to monitor individual and collective progress of hemispheric efforts in the treatment of the various manifestations of the problem. In May 1998, with the backing of the member states, the OAS began negotiations to design and implement the mechanisms based on the principles agreed to in the Hemispheric Strategy. The conceptual foundation of the strategy was observance of the provisions of the OAS Charter, mindful of the principles of shared responsibility, reciprocity, balanced treatment of issues, and consensus among the states. This is all based on the sovereignty, national jurisdiction, and legal structure of each country. These efforts are aimed at developing mutual trust and improving dialogue and cooperation among the member countries. It also enabled the countries to be more rigorous in their analysis, to have a number of parameters for evaluating the quality and pertinence of policies, to strengthen and adjust the policies periodically, to weigh the effectiveness of work methods, to learn more from successes and mistakes, and to benefit from information and similar experiences in other countries. In the area of institutional strengthening, the OAS continues to provide support to the national anti-drug commissions in organizing, formulating, and coordinating integrated and long-term national plans to help combat drug trafficking and abuse. To improve the capacity of these commissions to communicate among themselves and with other international organizations, and to maximize the use of existing telecommunications systems in the hemisphere, the OAS implemented the Inter-American Telecommunications Network for Drug Control/ National Commissions.

In 1996 the OAS formed a Group of Experts to provide assistance and facilitate cooperation among the countries of the Western Hemisphere for demand reduction. In recent years, they have also conducted numerous activities - including drug use prevention programs for street children, women, and youth; development of communication strategies; and projects related to drug education. In relation to legal developments, the OAS has updated the Model Regulations on Laundering Offenses related to the Illicit Trafficking in Drugs and Related Offenses. The General Assembly has approved these regulations and agreed upon numerous amendments to the Model Regulations to Control Chemical Substances. Thanks to this work, judicial systems, police, and other agencies combating drug trafficking in the countries of the hemisphere are now cooperating more closely. The OAS also has continued working on the dissemination of materials on drugs and has set up the Inter-American System of Uniform Data On Drug Use (SIDUC) - which supplies member states with reliable, rapidly accessible, and comparable data on the use and illegal trafficking of narcotics. (8)

In 1982, the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces program (OCDETF) was born to combine federal, state, and local law enforcement efforts into a comprehensive attack against organized crime and drug traffickers. OCDETF objectives are to target, investigate, and prosecute individuals who organize, direct, finance, or are otherwise engaged in high-level illegal drug trafficking enterprises including largescale money laundering organizations. Their strategic plan is to promote a coordinated drug enforcement effort in each task force region; to encourage maximum cooperation among all drug enforcement agencies; and to make full use of financial investigative techniques. By the late 1980s, the DEA’s financial investigative skills had evolved to such a high degree that the agency set up its own bank to lure drug traffickers into laundering their profits with them. In 1989, the investigative team created Trans America Ventures Associates (TARA) which established its credentials in the financial community. The result was so convincing that Hispanic Business Weekly listed TARA as one of the top 500 Hispanic Corporations in the Americas. Undercover agents then posed as money launderers and solicited to pick up funds anywhere in the world. They used informants to identify the drug money brokers from Colombia who acted as middlemen between the Cali organization kingpins and the money laundering operations in the United States. Beginning in San Diego and Los Angeles, the investigations took undercover agents to Houston, Ft Lauderdale, Miami, Chicago, and New York to pick up money and to establish business “fronts,” such as leather goods shops. During the course of the extensive investigation, DEA

agents laundered more than $20 million for the Colombian-based cartels. As the investigation developed, cartel operatives asked some of the undercover agents to provide money laundering services in Europe, Canada, and the Caribbean. Consequently, Operation Green Ice was expanded into an immense international law enforcement effort involving Canada, the Cayman Islands, Colombia, Costa Rica, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In September 1992, undercover agents arranged a meeting with top-ranking Cali financial managers at locations in the United States, Italy, Spain, and Costa Rica. The drug lords arrived, expecting to discuss plans for their current criminal businesses, but instead were arrested. Operation Green Ice was an unprecedented collaboration of talent and financial expertise that successfully formed the first international task force to combat the monetary networks of the Cali organization. Operation Green Ice led to the arrest of seven of the Cali organization’s top financial managers, the seizure of more than $50 million in assets worldwide, and the arrest of 177 persons which included 44 from the United States. (1) The opportunity was taken at the CARICOM (Caribbean Community) Georgetown, Guyana meeting on 25 Sep 1998 to review and assess progress on various drug projects and programs. They were designed to fight the trade in illicit drugs and associated crimes, including money-laundering and the regional justice protection program. Among these projects and programs were those agreed to at the Barbados Plan of Action for Drug Control Coordination and Cooperation in the Caribbean developed in 1996; at the Plan of Action arising out of the Caribbean/US Summit held in May 1997; and at the Second Summit of the Americas in April 1998 as well as those funded by the European Union (EU). The meeting also reviewed the programs and recommendations placed forward by the Association of Caribbean Commissioners of Police (ACCOP), the Caribbean Customs Law Enforcement Council (CCLEC) and the Caribbean Island Nations Security Conference (CINSEC). This meeting reaffirmed their commitment to a unified position in dealing with drug trafficking where

they agreed on a mechanism to be put in place with the CARICOM Secretariat to ensure coordination among the programs. (9) The results of the Caribbean Corridor Initiative includes many major multi-national operations. One - Operation Summer Storm conducted in 1997, was a combined effort of all the Caribbean nations, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the navies of Great Britain, Netherlands, France and the United States. It succeeded in closing down the eastern Caribbean to drug trafficking for almost 60 days. Operation Summer Storm resulted in the seizure of mega amounts of drugs, including 57 kilograms of cocaine, and the arrests of 828 people. Operation Genesis, conducted in late 1998, was also a multinational initiative, involving the United States, Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Prior to this operation, Haiti and the Dominican Republic had never coordinated their anti-drug efforts with each other. The precedent set by Operation Genesis will, hopefully, aid in improving the ability to coordinate anti-drug efforts on the island of Hispaniola. (1)


The presence of the trafficking organizations’ surrogates in communities now touched with violent crime will probably continue to be problematic as rampant drug trafficking continues. As international organized criminal groups grow stronger and diversify into various new products, methods, and strategies, we must continue to meet the challenges posed by these powerful international and domestic organizations. The Caribbean Sea acts as both a barrier and a bridge, functioning as the new internationalization of corruption and violence. The sea facilitates the flow of international commerce and transnational activities of some of the world’s great procedures and exports. It puts many an international activity beyond the reach of nation states. The result is often an asymmetry in maneuvering capabilities between the national and international actors. This asymmetry is augmented and perpetuated by the technical and electronic revolution which gives even private parties enormous capacities of communication, including the electronic transfer of capital in money laundering. The Caribbean not only provides a bridge between the producer and the consumer in this transnational industry, its modern banking system provides almost virtually impenetrable shelter to its profits. The importance of all this is that the drug trade both contributes to and is facilitated by widespread and enduring corruption which permeates key elements – though certainly not all – of the public and private sectors. (7) The United States government, for quite a while, has sought reassurances from the involved Caribbean countries that they would

develop and maintain a unified effort to fight drug trafficking in the region. March 4, 1996, US Secretary of State Warren Christopher and Prime Minister Basdeo Panday of Trinidad and Tobago signed three agreements designed to combat drug trafficking through the twin-island republic. These agreements are as follows: the Maritime Drug Interdiction Treaty, which permits US drug enforcement personnel to work aboard Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard boats and vice-versa; the Mutual Assistance Treaty, which authorizes exchanges of information on drug searches and seizures; and the Extradition Treaty, which streamlines existing extradition procedures between the two countries. CARICOM states, because of their fragile economies, geographical location, and inadequate security-capabilities, are vulnerable to narco-trafficking. Generally, the regional states have been attempting to respond to drug trafficking on an individual basis. They are using their very scarce resources primarily for interdiction and the eradication of marijuana, which is cultivated in a relatively large quantity in a number of Caribbean countries. The Inter-American Commission for Drug Abuse Control (CICAD) and a number of other international agencies also render assistance to the region in the fight against illicit trafficking and the use of narcotics. (11) The DEA has used the majority of the Western Hemisphere funds to continue installation of a classified computer infrastructure referred to as MERLIN – which operates in association with their FIREBIRD computer system – throughout DEA offices in the source and transit countries. This system is the single most important enhancement to enable the flow of critical intelligence to and from these regions and the United States. Drug traffickers are taking advantage of rapidly advancing technology, including encryption, which is used to disguise the content of conversations by thwarting law enforcement attempts to interfere with their operations and ultimately bring them to justice. The Western Hemisphere funding is also being used for the purchase of wireless intercept equipment to augment programs in the source and transit zones of the Caribbean. The switch to digital communications, the

sophistication of traffickers in their efforts to conceal their communications, as well as the expansion of DEA’s intercept programs in all the source countries - has significantly increased the demand for this technological equipment. (12) The growing trend towards increased cooperation in the Western Hemisphere is creating unprecedented drug-control opportunities through growing multilateral initiatives. The anti-drug action agenda signed at the 1994 Miami Summit of the Americas is being implemented. All member states of the Organization of American States endorsed the 1995 Buenos Aires Communique on Money Laundering and the 1996 Hemispheric Anti-Drug Strategy. The hemisphere’s thirtyfour democratically elected heads of states agreed during the 1998 Summit of the Americas in Santiago, Chile to an unprecedented Hemispheric Alliance Against Drugs. (13)

Drug trafficking in the Caribbean is overwhelmingly influenced by Colombian organized criminal groups. The Caribbean has long been a favorite smuggling route used by the Medellin and Cali crime groups. Now, independent groups of traffickers from the Northern Valle dal Cauca, and splinter groups from the Cali syndicate have risen to prominence and are responsible for mega volumes of cocaine and heroin being shipped to the United States and other countries through the Caribbean. These groups, who have replaced the highly structured, centrally controlled business operations of the Cali group, tend to be smaller and less organized. However, they continue to rely on fear and violence to expand and control their trafficking empires. The illegal drug economy may, occasionally, act as a safety-valve to compensate for the shortcomings of the formal economy. Traffickers infiltrate bureaucracies, buy public decisions, and conduct business through threats of violence and intimidation. They create an anti-state outside any rule of law or central government control, which necessitates the expenditure of millions of dollars for law enforcement activities. In the social sphere, traffickers corrupt a significant proportion of the population by attracting new generations to the drug trade. They glamorize gangs and glorify the role model of the conspicuously consuming “new rich”, thereby contributing to social disorganization and disintegration. Drug traffickers use the opportunities presented by the changing global economic environment to enlarge their activities and expand their markets. They are extremely mobile, employ the latest communication

technology and move their money around the world electronically. The consequences of this type of organized trafficking are severe; systemic crime and violence are becoming endemic in the countries worst affected, while traffickers’ efforts to corrupt public officials and attract new generations to the drug trade help protect them from attack. International narcotics control efforts will never adequately attack the trafficking problem until official government corruption in the drug trade is reduced or eliminated, so the efforts of the international community can be focused solely on prosecuting the criminal syndicates directly involved. A comprehensive study of the drug dilemma in the Caribbean reveals the severity of the threat that illegal drug trafficking poses to these small countries of the region. It is a persistent problem for law enforcement and threatens the very existence of the small countries in the Caribbean. The increase in the production and flow of drugs undermines the political stability and economic development since it leads to crime, corruption, arms trafficking and decreased tourism. Although all these countries, except Cuba, are democracies, the need to commit military and paramilitary forces in the war against drugs can seriously undermine democratic governance in these nations. Increased military involvement in drug control operations has been relatively unsuccessful where it has been attempted. Additionally, the adverse social and political impacts of such a strategy are potentially severe. The war on drugs cannot be fought by any one nation alone – it must be a unified effort. The fact that 144 States have become parties to the 1998 Convention on Illicit Traffic in Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances is evidence of the interest in quelling the growth of this illicit trade and traffic. In June 1998, the world interested countries from all across the globe assembled at the United Nations to send a message of unity and commitment to strengthen our effort against drug trafficking. Its success is yet to be observed.





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Section 1004 and Section 124 Counterdrug Assistance. (1998). Available: Perl, R. (1994). Drug Control: International Policy and Options. Washington DC: Library of Congress. Nelson, B. (1996). Drug Control – U.S. Interdiction Efforts in the Caribbean Decline. Washington DC: U.S. General Accounting Office. Caribbean Nations Reviewing U.S. Drug Treaty. (1999). Georgetown, Guyana: News Digital Media. Available: http:// Coast Guard Reports Shift in Caribbean Drug Trafficking: Seizure Value Nearly $1 Billion. (1997). San Juan, P.R: USDOT. Available: Anti-Drug Strategy in the Hemisphere. (1998). Washington DC: OAS. Available: http://www.cicad.oas. Ledwith, W. (1999). DEA Congressional Testimony: Nature and Extent of the Drug Threat from Cuba. Washington DC: U.S. Department of Justice. Marshall, D. (1998). DEA Congressional Testimony: National Security, International Affairs, and Criminal Justice. Washington DC: U.S. Department of Justice. Milford, J. (1997). DEA Congressional Testimony: Caribbean/ South Florida. Washington DC: U.S. Department of Justice.