Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Beyond drug trafficking: toward genuine security in the Caribbean

Drug trafficking is, by many accounts, a major security challenge in the Caribbean region.

Due in part to aggressive counter-drug trafficking operations in Central America, drug traffickers based in Mexico and Colombia increasingly use the Caribbean as an alternative path for drugs en route to the United States.

To transport this volume of traffic, a growing number of boats—including the infamous narco subs—cross Caribbean waters carrying contraband. Many pass without being stopped, because most regional security forces lack sufficient coast guard personnel or equipment to properly monitor their territorial waters.

With large quantities of drugs smuggled across Caribbean waters each year, other countries have stepped in to stem the flow. For example, Operation Lionfish, a multinational law enforcement initiative, brought police agencies from multiple nations in the Caribbean and Central America into coordination with the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL). The operation, which ran from May 27 to June 10, captured 142 suspects and seized up to 30 tons of cocaine, heroin, and marijuana. In mid-July, the U.S. Coast Guard stopped a speedboat that was carrying 2,300 pounds of cocaine in the Central Caribbean.

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