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Homeland Security

04 March 2005

Caribbean Used to Transit South American Narcotics to U.S., Europe

State Dept. report says region is exploited by traffickers

By Scott Miller
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington -- Given their geographic location, many nations of the Caribbean are utilized as transit countries for cocaine, marijuana and other illicit drugs from South America to the United States, Europe, and other global markets, according to the U.S. State Department's International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR) for 2004.

The Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 requires the U.S. president to annually submit to Congress a list of those countries determined to be major illicit drug-producing and/or drug-transit countries.  On March 4 the State Department released to the U.S. Congress the INCSR, which outlines the efforts of nations to address all aspects of the international drug trade.

The INCSR for 2004 found that many nations of the Caribbean continue to be utilized as transit countries for illicit narcotics from South America to the United States, Europe, and other markets.

More specifically, the 2004 report identified the Bahamas, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic as major transit points for the shipment of South American narcotics to the United States and other markets.  The report also said the broad geographic area of the eastern and southern Caribbean is an "area of concern" and faulted Cuba for its failure to implement policies to address the corridor inside Cuban waters and airspace used by narcotics traffickers.  The INCSR added that Haiti's location, extreme poverty and weak institutions have made it a key conduit for drug traffickers.

The report estimated that a minimum of 20 metric tons of the cocaine trafficked to the United States passes through the vector of the Bahamas, Jamaica and Cuba.  It also estimated that a minimum of eight metric tons of cocaine from South America to the United States transited the Dominican Republic in 2004.  Jamaica was found to be the largest producer and exporter of marijuana in the Caribbean.

In addition to assessing individual nations' efforts to combat illicit narcotics and related activities, the INCSR outlines Caribbean cooperation with the United States in these efforts.

Whereas the INCSR indicates that Cuban counternarcotics cooperation with the United States is sporadic, it said that the governments of the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago, among others, work closely with the United States in these matters.

The INCSR indicated that the United States will continue to provide training, equipment and technical support to Caribbean counternarcotics efforts, including initiatives to bolster law enforcement and judicial institutions and the rule of law.

That portion of the INCSR relating to the Caribbean is available online at:

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:

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