Dominican Republic and United States Strengthen Anti-Drug Efforts

Dominican Republic and United States Strengthen Anti-Drug Efforts

By Geraldine Cook
April 18, 2016

The Dominican Navy and the United States are working together to combat transnational organized crimes, such as trafficking, in addition to threats from natural and man-made disasters.

Rear Admiral Cedric Pringle, the Deputy Director of the U.S. Joint Interagency Task Force South (JIATF-S), recently visited the Dominican Republic to strengthen ties between the two countries in their shared efforts to combat international drug trafficking.

From March 22nd-24th, he met with the Chief of Naval Operations for the Dominican Navy (ARD), Vice Admiral Edmundo Néstor M. Feliz Pimentel, and the director of the Drug Enforcement Bureau, Major General Julio César Souffront Velázquez, to learn about the drug enforcement work carried out by the ARD and National Directorate for Drug Control (DNCD) with other Dominican government agencies. The director of operations for the Ministry of Defense, Brigadier General Santo Domingo Guerrero Clase, and Airborne Brigadier General Paulino Espinal, the Dominican Air Force deputy chief of staff, also attended the meeting.

Rear Adm. Pringle and Maj. Gen. Souffront toured the DNCD facilities and received an explanation of the DNCD’s organizational structure, highlighting the unconditional support the bureau receives from Dominican President Danilo Medina. Rear Adm. Pringle “praised the fight our agency has waged against drug trafficking, organized crime, and money laundering,” according to a DNCD press release. Maj. Gen. Souffront said it was “an honor to have such a distinguished visitor here. His arrival at the DNCD was anxiously anticipated, and it has been very fruitful.”

JIATF-S cooperates with Dominican Republic forces

The JIATF-S, which conducts interagency and international Detection & Monitoring operations in support of national and partner nation security
, includes all five branches of the U.S. Armed Forces. For over 16 years, JIATF-S has maintained intensive, constant coordination efforts to battle trafficking throughout the world.

At the ARD, Rear Adm. Pringle “exchanged impressions and was given an explanation of the work performed by the Dominican Republic Navy, in coordination with other government agencies, to fight drug trafficking in our area of responsibility,” ARD spokesperson Captain Arsenio Maldonado Gil told Diálogo.
Rear Adm. Pringle also learned about the joint operations that include the ARD, the DNCD , the Armed Forces Ministry, the National Bureau of Investigations, the National Police, the Dominican Air Force, and the Dominican Army. Rear Adm. Pringle visited Naval units and the Maritime Operations Center following the meeting.

JIATF-S and the ARD “agreed to build a stronger training program and improve the platform for real-time information sharing to track and interdict aircraft and motorboats tied to drug trafficking, as well as to increase the Dominican Navy’s capacity to over 100 miles, with the support of SOUTHCOM,” Capt. Maldonado explained. The ARD and the United States are closely coordinating their joint efforts in the region to combat, “transnational organized crime, such as the trafficking of drugs, persons, and weapons, in addition to threats from natural and man-made disasters,” Capt. Maldonado added.

Drug seizures up

Dominican law enforcement authorities burned more than 13 tons of drugs in 2015, seven in 2014, and nine in 2013, according to the Dominican Republic’s Office of the Solicitor General.

“The successful whole-of-region approach to halt the flow of cocaine, heroin, and other drugs into the region promotes stability, security, and the well-being of citizens of every country,” said Coast Guard Rear Admiral Christopher J. Tomney.

The Dominican Navy and JIATF-S are working in close cooperation to fight transnational organized crime. The greatest challenges they share are “to improve responses and exchanges of information while an operation is underway against drug or human trafficking,” Capt. Maldonado said, adding that Rear Adm. Pringle’s visit “strengthens the ties of friendship that bind the Dominican Republic and the United States, as well as the joint operations in the international war to combat drug trafficking in this region.”

The U.S government estimates that 6% of the cocaine smuggled into the United States and Europe is shipped through the Dominican Republic, according to the International Narcotics Control Strategy Report
issued by the U.S. government in March 2015.