Officials in the Dominican Republic assert drug traffickers are now diverting shipments to neighboring Haiti, a suspicious claim that nonetheless highlights larger trends in Caribbean trafficking routes.
Due to strengthened efforts by the Dominican Republic’s National Drugs Control Agency (DNCD), drug traffickers are choosing to land drug shipments from South America in Haiti instead of the Dominican Republic, a DNCD press release stated.
The agency cited recent seizures of “significant” amounts of drugs near the Haitian border as evidence of this trend.
In response, the DNCD, in coordination with the Dominican Republic’s military, is stepping up land, sea, and air patrols near Haitian waters and the nations’ shared land border, the release added.
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The DNCD’s claims — essentially congratulating itself on a job well done — must be approached with skepticism.
To be sure, it is highly plausible traffickers are choosing to land drug shipments in Haiti. A series of coups in recent decades have left Haiti’s rule of law in tatters, and the nation ranks worst in the region (tied with Venezuela) on Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index.
Nonetheless, the Dominican Republic is also a well-established trafficking route, facilitated by deep-seated corruption. Allegations of ties to drug trafficking have even reached a former president. Additionally, the recent escape from the country of two French pilots convicted of drug trafficking casts doubt on the DNCD’s claim of tightened security.
SEE ALSO: Coverage of the Dominican Republic
However, the DNCD report may also reflect a resurgence in Caribbean drug trafficking routes. Several Central American nations have installed radar and passed laws allowing suspected drugs flights to be shot down, putting pressure on trafficking corridors through the isthmus. In the case of Honduras, these efforts have been so effective authorities claim to have blocked nearly all drug flights in their airspace.
As such, traffickers may be reviving Caribbean routes to the US drug market (which were favored in the 1980s) or seeking to establish new ones, potentially leading to the increased use of Hispaniola in general as a key transshipment point.