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Dominican Republic Already Set for Record Year in Cocaine Seizures

Some of the 1.8 tons of cocaine seized, January 2013 Some of the 1.8 tons of cocaine seized, January 2013

So far this year, the Dominican Republic has already seized more than a quarter of the total amount of cocaine it confiscated in 2012, illustrating the country's growing importance as a transshipment point for narcotics.

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Officials from the Dominican National Drugs Control Agency (DNCD), working with US authorities, detained 900 kilograms of cocaine on January 13, reported Listin Diario.

The shipment was being transported by boat into Ocoa Bay, in Azua province. Upon being detected, the boat reportedly turned around and fled into international waters, throwing its cargo into the sea. Despite being pursued by Dominican military aircraft and boats, the traffickers escaped.

This seizure follows that of 1,870 kilos of cocaine last week in the same area. 

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Combined, these two seizures amount to over a quarter of the total amount of cocaine confiscated throughout the country in 2012, when some 8,300 kilos of the drug were seized.

DR SeizuresAs the graph (right) illustrates, the Dominican Republic has seen a significant uptick in cocaine seizures in recent years, indicating its increasing importance as a transit point for narcotics heading to the United States and Europe. While only 3-4 percent of all US-bound cocaine passes through Dominican territory, according to the US State Department, US officials have warned that traffickers are increasingly turning to Caribbean corridors. The amount seized in just two operations this month is an ominous sign that this is happening fast.

With increased cocaine flows through Dominican territory has come an increase in violence. The country has seen its homicide rate double between 2001 and 2011 from 12.5 murders per 100,000 inhabitants to 25 per 100,000. The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) attributed this rise to the growing presence of transnational criminal organisations from Mexico and South America. According to US officials, these groups often pay their local partners in cocaine rather than cash, thus helping fuel the local drug trade and drug-related violence.

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