Puerto Rico Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi

US authorities are set to invest millions of dollars to tackle drug and arms trafficking in Puerto Rico, according to the island's resident commissioner, highlighting the growing influence of organized crime on the Caribbean territory. 

Pedro Pierluisi announced that the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) plans to send reinforcements to boost stretched law enforcement agencies, namely the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Coast Guard, reported EFE. The objective of the plan is to boost both the number and the coverage of the organizations' operations.

Assistants to US Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano also said in Washington that the department is close to announcing new "concrete and substantial steps" to combat drug trafficking on the territory, El Nuevo Dia reported.

The announcement occurs nearly simultaneously with the naming of a new FBI director for Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, Carlos Cases, who has also announced plans to work with the authorities to combat corruption, drug trafficking and organized crime.

InSight Crime Analysis

The decision to reinforce counternarcotics operations in Puerto Rico is indicative of the island's growing importance for drug traffickers, and the fact that it is currently ill-prepared to deal with this threat.

In early 2012, the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) reported that Puerto Rico had become an important transit point for cocaine smugglers, who usually send shipments first to smaller islands and using Puerto Rico as a stopping point before reaching the US.

Since then, several measures have been taken to combat this rise. In September 2012, the DHS launched the Caribbean Guard Operation to combat the flow of illegal arms, drugs and money, while in January 2013, Puerto Rico’s governor announced that the US National Guard would be deployed along the island's coastline to combat drugs and arms trafficking.

Reinforcements for the agencies tasked with policing the island and its surrounds may begin to tackle what makes the island so attractive to traffickers: its easy access to the US mainland, generally with few inspections, and police corruption.

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Prev Next

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...

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...

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

In San Pedro Sula's jailhouse, chaos reigns. The inmates, trapped in their collective misery, battle for control over every inch of their tight quarters. Farm animals and guard dogs roam free and feed off scraps, which can include a human heart. Every day is visitors' day, and...

'MS13 Members Imprisoned in El Salvador Can Direct the Gang in the US'

'MS13 Members Imprisoned in El Salvador Can Direct the Gang in the US'

Special Agent David LeValley headed the criminal division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) Washington office until last November 8. While in office, he witnessed the rise of the MS13, the Barrio 18 (18th Street) and other smaller gangs in the District of Columbia as well...

How the MS13 Got Its Foothold in Transnational Drug Trafficking

How the MS13 Got Its Foothold in Transnational Drug Trafficking

Throughout the continent, the debate on whether or not the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) gang is working with or for drug traffickers continues. In this investigation, journalist Carlos García tells the story of how a member of the MS13 entered the methamphetamine distribution business under the powerful auspices...

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. 

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...

The Fixer and El Salvador's Missed Opportunity

The Fixer and El Salvador's Missed Opportunity

In the photograph, they are both smiling. In the foreground, on the left hand side, a man in a short-sleeved buttoned white shirt, jeans and a metal watch, holds a bottle of water in his right hand. He laughs heartily. He is Herbert Saca. On the right...

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

José Adán Salazar Umaña is the only Salvadoran citizen currently on the US government's Kingpin List. But in his defense, Salazar Umaña claims is he is an honorable businessman who started his career by exchanging money along the borders between Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. He does...

The MS13 Moves (Again) to Expand on US East Coast

The MS13 Moves (Again) to Expand on US East Coast

Local police and justice officials are convinced that the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) has strengthened its presence along the East Coast of the United States. The alarm follows a recent spate of violence -- of the type not seen in a decade -- which included dismembered bodies and...