Pubdate: Fri, 09 Mar 2001
Source: Associated Press
Copyright: 2001 Associated Press


SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) -- Caribbean authorities said Friday they
are hampered by limited resources as they try to stem the drug flow
that accounts for an estimated one-third of U.S.-bound cocaine shipments.

Jamaica, the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic and Haiti were named as
major transshipment centers in a U.S. State Department report released
last week. Eastern islands -- including St. Kitts and St. Lucia --
were increasingly being used by traffickers, the report said.

"We have tried hard to stop cocaine from entering or leaving,"
Jamaica National Police spokesman Sgt. Jubert Llewellyn said.
"Frankly, intelligence is where we have been hurt by a lack of
resources. We want to take out the drug trafficking heads, and that
takes money."

While the flow of cocaine through Haiti has decreased, Jamaica has
become the region's leading transshipment point, the report said. It
estimated 79 tons of cocaine moved through Jamaica in 2000, compared
to 34 tons in 1999.

Haiti was the only Caribbean country that was not certified as fully
cooperating with U.S. anti-drug efforts, but economic penalties were
waived to allow the new government an opportunity to revive the
country's shattered economy and crack down on the drug trade.

"We are determined to earn the certification next year by reinforcing
cooperation with the United States," Haitian Minister of Justice Gary
Lissade said Friday. He said the new government of President
Jean-Bertrand Aristide also planned to increase surveillance.

Until corruption and a weak, underfunded police force are addressed by
the government, "Haiti's and the international community's efforts to
fight illegal drugs there will be destined to be ineffective," the
U.S. government report said.

The report also named the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico as the entry
point into the United States for much of the Colombian cocaine moved
around the Caribbean, mostly in speed boats or in commercial shipping

"We are working to dismantle several drug trafficking organizations
that use Puerto Rico as a transshipment point," said Waldo Santiago,
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration spokesman. "It is used because
shipments from here to the U.S. don't undergo any customs checks."

Because of Puerto Rico's importance as a transit point for cocaine
destined for mainland cities, the U.S. Navy has joined the U.S. Coast
guard in anti-drug patrols around the island, deploying surveillance
aircraft and patrol ships to thwart traffickers. 
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