A top anti-narcotics official in the Dominican Republic has claimed that foreign mafias and cartels are at fault for the Dominican Republic’s drug problems.

In a July 16 announcement, Dominican drug czar Marino Castillo claimed that the rise in drug consumption and trafficking in the Dominican Republic is partially due to the influence of foreign criminal organizations. According to Terra Colombia, Castillo blamed organized crime groups like the Russian mafia, as well as Mexican cartels like Sinaloa, for some of the country’s drug problems.

The presidential advisor went on to explain that the Dominican government is making efforts to counter drug trafficking, including purchasing sophisticated radar from Israel to track boats used in drug smuggling.

Castillo made a similar claim in February 2011, when he alleged that the Russian and Italian mafias were investing in real estate properties in the Caribbean country.

InSight Crime Analysis

There is evidence to back Castillo’s claims. In July 2011, Dominican authorities arrested a Mexican trafficker who allegedly worked for the Sinaloa Cartel, indicating that the Mexican group may have some presence in the country. Moreover, in 2007 the International Relations and Security Network, which is funded by the Swiss Department for Defence (DDPS) and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, reported that the Italian mafia was using several businesses in the Dominican Republic as fronts for drug trafficking.

However, in regard to Castillo’s claim about the Russian mafia, the only open source evidence of the group operating in the Caribbean is over 10 years old. In the 1990s, the Russian mafia had been reported to be involved in money laundering and drug smuggling schemes with Colombian drug traffickers and the Italian mafia.

Castillo’s statements may be intended to direct attention and blame away from the country’s problems with crime and corruption. The Dominican Republic’s homicide rate is roughly three times that of the United States and it struggles with corruption, ranking it 129th out of 183 countries on Transparency International’s 2011 Corruption Index.

With governments in Mexico and Central America cracking down on criminal activity, Caribbean countries provide an increasingly appealing alternative for drug traffickers. The US State Department has warned that use of the Caribbean smuggling routes could potentially rise, and the presence of foreign traffickers in the Dominican Republic could be evidence of this.

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
Prev Next

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

  Life of a Sicario Anatomy of a Hit   The BACRIM's control over territories such as the north Colombian region of Bajo Cauca comes at the point of a gun, and death is a constant price of their power.

Venezuela Prisons: 'Pranes' and 'Revolutionary' Criminality

Venezuela Prisons: 'Pranes' and 'Revolutionary' Criminality

In May 2011, a 26-year-old prison gang leader held 4,000 members of the Venezuelan security forces, backed by tanks and helicopters, at bay for weeks. Humiliated nationally and internationally, it pushed President Hugo Chávez into a different and disastrous approach to the prison system.

Closing the Gaps on Firearms Trafficking in Honduras

Closing the Gaps on Firearms Trafficking in Honduras

As set out in this report, the legal structure around Honduras' arms trade is deeply flawed. The legislation is inconsistent and unclear as to the roles of different institutions, while the regulatory system is insufficiently funded, anachronistic and administered by officials who are overworked or susceptible to...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

  Drugs Extortion Criminal Cash Flows Millions of dollars in dirty money circulate constantly around Bajo Cauca, flowing upwards and outwards from a broad range of criminal activities. The BACRIM are the chief regulators and beneficiaries of this shadow economy.

Counting Firearms in Honduras

Counting Firearms in Honduras

Estimates vary widely as to how many legal and illegal weapons are circulating in Honduras. There are many reasons for this. The government does not have a centralized database that tracks arms seizures, purchases, sales and other matters concerning arms possession, availability and merchandising. The laws surrounding...

Trafficking Firearms Into Honduras

Trafficking Firearms Into Honduras

Honduras does not produce weapons,[1] but weapons are trafficked into the country in numerous ways. These vary depending on weapon availability in neighboring countries, demand in Honduras, government controls and other factors. They do not appear to obey a single strategic logic, other than that of evading...

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

The department of Nariño in southwest Colombia is the main coca-producing area in the country and in the world. It is a place scarred by poverty and years of armed conflict between guerrillas, the state and paramilitary groups. Perhaps nowhere else in the country are the challenges...

Trafficking Firearms in Honduras

Trafficking Firearms in Honduras

The weapons trade within Honduras is difficult to monitor. This is largely because the military, the country's sole importer, and the Armory, the sole salesmen of weapons, do not release information to the public. The lack of transparency extends to private security companies, which do not have...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

  The Bajo Cauca Franchise BACRIM-Land Armed Power Dynamics The BACRIM in places like the region of Bajo Cauca are a typical manifestation of Colombia's underworld today: a semi-autonomous local cell that is part of a powerful national network.