Dominican President Asks for More US Anti-Drug Aid

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The president of the Dominican Republic called on the U.S. to increase anti-drug trafficking aid to the island nation, which is in need of more technical equipment to better monitor its air and maritime territory.

Speaking at an international security forum, President Leonel Fernandez said that the Dominican Republic needs radar, go-fast boats and other equipment to step up the fight against organized crime, reports national newspaper Diario Libre.

Since the government purchased eight Super Tucano aircrafts from Brazil in 2009, there has been “no trace” of drug planes in the Dominican Republic’s airspace, he said.

However, as noted by the 2011 State Department Report on narcotics control, the island remains a major transit country for drug traffickers transfering their wares by sea. The loosely controlled border with Haiti also sees significant drug flow. The Dominican Republic’s 14,000 member police force is not enough to properly monitor its territory, Fernandez said.

The Dominican Republic is slated to receive $5.6 million in anti-drug aid from the U.S. for the 2012 fiscal year. The Caribbean region as a whole will receive $96.8 million in anti-drug aid for 2012, compared to the $300 million in funds promised to Central America

In May, Dominican authorities said they would begin tightening control on fuel sales in order to continue reducing the number of illegal aircrafts that attempt to refuel on the island. 

But the country faces other hurdles in the fight against drug trafficking which have little to do with technical equipment, Fernandez admitted during the security forum. Cases related to organized crime in the Caribbean see a 90 percent impunity rate, he said. Corruption in the Dominican security forces has been another significant problem, with more than 5,000 members of the police and army reportedly fired over the last three years for their alleged links to crime.

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