The Dominican Republic and the United States are working in close collaboration to strengthen the countries' amicable relationship and focus on threats posed by transnational organized crime, such as terrorism and the trafficking of drugs, weapons, and humans, the Dominican Republic's Defense Ministry said in a statement.
“Our traditional strategic partner, the United States, in the war on drugs has helped the Dominican Republic remain a leader in the Caribbean in terms of countries that have achieved the most positive results against international drug trafficking," Darío Medrano, spokesman and director of public relations for the Dominican Republic’s National Drug Control Directorate (DNCD), told Diálogo .
Caribbean Basin Security Initiative
The joint collaboration efforts on regional security among SOUTHCOM, the DNCD, and the Dominican Republic’s Armed Forces is demonstrated in numerous programs, including the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI). The Dominican Navy (ARD, for its Spanish acronym) has teamed with the Dominican Air Force (FARD), and squadrons from other nations to strengthen security in the Caribbean nation and throughout the region by holding training sessions and partnering in interdictions.
For example, after planning a strategic operation between the DNCD, the ARD, the FARD, Dominican authorities seized more than 620 packages of cocaine from a fishing boat off the coast of Juancho-Los Cocos in the province of Barahona on December 15th. “The exchange of intelligence information concerning drug trafficking operations and the close collaboration that the Armed Forces and DNCD maintain with SOUTHCOM'S liaison officer have been essential to delivering strong blows to international drug trafficking,” Medrano explained.
The ARD has seized significant amounts of narcotics using 10 Boston Whaler interceptor boats, which were donated by the U.S. government as part of SOUTHCOM's Military Assistance Program. “The interceptor boats are pre-positioned at different strategic points on the island to react when the DNCD conducts operations in vulnerable coastal zones that are the most used by drug traffickers,” Medrano said.
The Dominican Republic and the United States signed cooperation agreements and protocols in 1995 and 2003 to facilitate joint operations. The Dominican government “must reinforce justice and adjust drug and money laundering laws; formalize agreements with other countries to target the goods produced by international drug trafficking; and strengthen capabilities and provide more logistical support to the execution of anti-drug operations,” Medrano said. "The anti-drug operations are very active in our country, and, on almost all of them, we have worked hand-in-hand with the capabilities of the United States in this area."
The Dominican Republic is an important transit country for illegal drugs that originate in South America and are trafficked into the United States and Europe. The U.S. government estimates that approximately 6 percent of the cocaine trafficked into the United States and Europe is transported through the Dominican Republic, according to the International Narcotics Control Strategy Report published by the U.S. government in March 2015.
The Dominican government incinerated more than 13 tons of drugs in 2015, at least six tons more than in 2014, according to the Dominican Republic's Attorney General. “The different seizures of narcotics conducted jointly [with the United States] over the last few years; the dismantling of various organized drug trafficking networks; close cooperation; ongoing technical support; and having generated more confidence between both countries have all had a truly positive impact in the battle we are waging in an integrated manner against criminal organizations,” Medrano stated.
The Dominican Republic has designed and implemented a manual that establishes procedures for aerial, naval, and land units during narcotics seizures as well as how to transfer information regarding suspicious air and sea vehicles securely. The goal is for personnel from the Armed Forces, the DNCD, and other law enforcement agencies to work together to carry out successful operations.
The DNCD's counter-narcotics operations are supported by the Defend, Protect, and Serve unit (DEPROSER), created by the Ministry of Defense to provide a rapid reaction force against drug trafficking. “DEPROSER can be found throughout the country in seven groups that are strategically located to provide their support whenever it might be called upon,” Medrano said.