Dominican Republic and Haiti cooperate against drug traffickers
By Dialogo May 01, 2014
The Dominican Republic and Haiti have agreed on March 23 to strengthen cooperation to defeat the Sinaloa Cart
el and other transnational criminal organizations that operate in the Caribbean region.
The president of the National Directorate of Drug Control (DNCD) of the Dominican Republic, Maj. Gen. Julio César Souffront Velázquez, and the chief of police in Haiti, Godson Arelus, held a meeting in which officials from both countries expressed their “willingness to bolster cooperation for better results in the fight against drug trafficking,” according to a report from the DNCD.
The two countries aim to build a “wall of containment” against international drug trafficking groups, which pose threats to the peace and tranquility of Dominican and Haitian residents, Souffront Velázquez said during the meeting, which took place at DNCD headquarters in Santo Domingo.
Sharing information and strategy
The DNCD ratified its cooperation agreement with Haiti. The agreement calls for security forces from the two countries to share information about drug trafficking in the Caribbean region and to cooperate on strategic operations.
Dominican security forces are prepared to share their resources with their Haitian counterparts, Souffront Velázquez said.
“Haiti can rely on all our logistics to detect drugs and cartels seeking to use the two countries as a bridge for drug trafficking, Souffront Velázquez said.
Haitian National Police will have access to the DNCD’s Canine Training Center (K-9), its operational center, and its training academy, DNCD authorities said.
Arelus toured various DCND facilities and thanked Dominican officials for their support in the fight against the “scourge of drugs and money laundering.”
Cooperative Plan to fight drug trafficking
This joint effort is part of the broad Cooperation Plan the Dominican Republic and Haiti signed in February 2014. The plan lays out a strategy to fight drug trafficking on the island of Hispaniola.
The plan covers police training, police operations, including organization and criminal investigations, cooperation on joint operations, the search for fugitives, and strategic regional cooperation.
The agreement is not the first time the Dominican Republic and Haiti, which share an island, have agreed to cooperate in the fight against drug trafficking.
In May 2012, the then Dominican president, Leonel Antonio Fernández, ordered the DNCD and the Armed Forces to provide Haiti with fighter aircraft and patrol boats to fight drug trafficking.
The Dominican Armed Forces provided to Haiti several aircraft, including an Embraer A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft.
Key drug trafficking route
Hispaniola is located between the United States and South America. Drug traffickers use Hispaniola as a key transshipment route and destination for cocaine and other drugs, said Armando Rodriguez Luna, a security analyst at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).
“But we've seen a real increase in the flow in that direction, towards Dominican Republic,” U.S. Gen. John F. Kelly, leader of the U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) said in March 2014 during a press briefing at the Pentagon. The Dominican Republic, Haiti, and several other Latin American countries cooperate with U.S. security forces in the fight against international drug trafficking.
Drug gangs have divided the island into several land and air corridors to ensure better distribution of cocaine, authorities said.
Drug traffickers transport large amounts of cocaine from Haiti to Florida through the Caicos Islands, Jamaica, the Virgin Islands, and the Bahamas, authorities said.
The Sinaloa Cartel
The Sinaloa Cartel, a Mexican transnational criminal organization, controls much of the drug trafficking in the Dominican Republic and Haiti, Rodriguez said.
The Sinaloa Cartel also operates in Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. The organized crime group transports cocaine from the Caribbean to Africa and Australia. Dominican and Haitian security forces must be vigilant in the battle against the Sinaloa Cartel and other drug trafficking groups, Rodriguez said. Cooperation is crucial in the fight against the Sinaloa Cartel and other organized crime groups, the security analyst said.
“International intervention in this cooperation agreement is essential to success in the fight against drug gangs on the island,” Rodriguez said.
International cooperation between the Dominican Republic and Haiti and other countries, such as Guatemala, Belize, Mexico and the U.S. is also crucial in the fight against money laundering, Rordigues said.