WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), co-chairs of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, today released a bipartisan report entitled Preventing a Security Crisis in the Caribbean that provides recommendations for Congress and the Obama Administration to enhance current security efforts in the Caribbean.
“The Caribbean region has come a long way since it served as the primary transit route for South American drugs entering the United States in the 1980s,” said Senator Feinstein. “Despite impressive gains, drug trafficking, local drug consumption and the U.S. demand for illegal drugs remain major causes of crime and violence. As enforcement efforts in Mexico and Central America inevitably move trafficking back to the Caribbean, we must better support our neighbors in the Western Hemisphere to combat the corrosive drug trade and minimize violence.”
“The Caribbean continues to be a major transshipment zone for narcotics.” said Senator Grassley. “The recent spike in the use of drug-trafficking submarines there shows the lengths smugglers are taking to get their product to U.S. shores through the area. Drug trafficking and related violence in the Caribbean have a significant impact on our national security and on the lives of the region’s people. The United States has to adapt to emerging trends in shipping techniques to help keep illicit drugs out of the United States and continue to help Caribbean nations strengthen their counternarcotics efforts. This report outlines actions the United States can take to help our partners in the Caribbean combat the transshipment of illegal drugs throughout the region.”
The report recommends:
- An assessment by the State Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) of where Sensitive Investigative Units are most needed in the Caribbean. Jamaica, with the fourth highest murder rate in the world, should be considered a top candidate for one of these units.
- Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) should send a full criminal history of all deportees to authorities in the Caribbean so they are aware of the return of any criminals or drug traffickers. Caribbean countries’ authorities do not currently receive a full criminal rap sheet from ICE on deportees returning home.
- United States technical assistance to the countries of the Caribbean to support the drafting of asset forfeiture laws and laws controlling precursor chemicals used to make illegal drugs.
- The integration of Puerto Rico into working level meetings held between the State Department and countries in the Caribbean on security and narcotics issues
- .Strong support of Haitian counternarcotic efforts.
- Strengthening of U.S. anti-money laundering laws.
- Continued extradition of drug kingpins from the Caribbean to the United States.
- The return of DEA helicopters used in Operation Bahamas, Turks and Caicos to the Exumas Islands in The Bahamas.
The report is also endorsed by Senators Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), James E. Risch (R-Idaho), and John Cornyn (R-Texas), members of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control. The report can be found here.