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
  • 10
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. In rural sectors, uniformed BACRIM armed with assault rifles still patrol in...

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. Unlike their paramilitary and drug cartel predecessors, the BACRIM maintain a diversified...

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Following Guatemala's long and brutal civil war, members of the military were charged, faced trial and sentenced to jail time. Even some members of a powerful elite unit known as the Kaibil were put behind bars. Among these prisoners, none were more emblematic than Captain Byron Lima...

El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

El Salvador's prison system is the headquarters of the country's largest gangs. It is also where one of these gangs, the MS13, is fighting amongst itself for control of the organization.

Homicides in Guatemala: Collecting the Data

Homicides in Guatemala: Collecting the Data

When someone is murdered in Guatemala, police, forensic doctors and government prosecutors start making their way to the crime scene and a creaky, antiquated 20th century bureaucratic machine kicks into gear. Calls are made. Forms are filled out by hand, or typed into computers, or both. Some...

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The prison system in Latin America and the Caribbean has become a prime incubator for organized crime. This overview -- the first of six reports on prison systems that we produced after a year-long investigation -- traces the origins and maps the consequences of the problem, including...

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

In July 2011, members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) attended a meeting organized in California by a criminal known as "Bad Boy." Among the invitees was José Juan Rodríguez Juárez, known as "Dreamer," who had gone to the meeting hoping to better understand what was beginning to...

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia's prisons are a reflection of the multiple conflicts that have plagued the country for the last half-century. Paramilitaries, guerrillas and drug trafficking groups have vied for control of the jails where they can continue to manage their operations on the outside. Instead of corralling these forces...

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...

Homicides in Guatemala: Introduction, Methodology, and Major Findings

Homicides in Guatemala: Introduction, Methodology, and Major Findings

When violence surged in early 2015 in Guatemala, then-President Otto Pérez Molina knew how to handle the situation: Blame the street gangs.