Cuba Drug Seizures Plummet in 2012

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Cuban authorities reported seizing less than 1.5 tons of drugs in the first five months of 2012, a large drop from last year’s record high of 9 tons.

The majority of the 1.44 tons seized was marijuana, according to the head of the anti-drug agency Coronel Domingo Ibañez.

Most of the shipments were found off the Cuban coast in bundles, having apparently been abandoned by traffickers fearing arrest, or dropped out of planes to be picked up by boats headed for the United States, reported state-run newspaper Granma.

Ibañez said that 2011 and the first half of 2012 saw an increase in drug trafficking from Jamaica to the Bahamas, and from there to the United States. The official did not explain the drop in seizures this year.

He reported that there had been a rise in the amount of drugs confiscated in Cuba’s airports in 2012, which he attributed to traffickers’ attempts to cultivate a domestic market for drugs within the country.

InSight Crime Analysis

Drug trafficking both through and into Cuba appears to have been increasing in recent years, making the drop in seizures for 2012 puzzling. Cuba seized a record 9 tons of drugs in 2011, marking a 300 percent increase from 2010. The 1.5 tons seized during the first five months of 2012 makes it likely that this year’s total will be far below last year’s.

Drawing conclusions about trends in drug trafficking in Cuba is difficult, however, due to a lack of transparency on drug statistics on the part of Cuban authorities. Outside organizations are unable to confirm the numbers presented by the Cuban government. 

Drug trafficking in and through Cuba is minimal compared to trafficking in other Caribbean nations like Jamaica and the Dominican Republic. Large transnational drug trafficking organizations have no notable presence within the country, and even US officials have praised Cuba for its strict anti-drug trafficking measures.

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