US hearing on Caribbean drug trafficking
WASHINGTON, USA, Friday June 01, 2012 – An estimated 30 percent of illegal drugs landed in the United States mainland is shipped via the Caribbean, while an estimated 70 percent of cocaine transiting through Puerto Rico also ends up in mainland United States.
Against this backdrop, a US Congressional subcommittee will hold a hearing later this month on national security threats on America’s Caribbean border.
Titled “US-Caribbean Border: Open Road for Drug Trafficking”, the hearing of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations and Management will be chaired by Republican Congressman Michael McCaul.
“The disturbing increase in drug trafficking and drug-related violence in this region is a major contributing factor. It is alarming and unacceptable,” McCaul said. “If this kind of violence were happening anywhere else where 4 million American citizens resided, it would make daily headlines.”
The congressman said the United States territories were acting as an “unlocked back door” to the mainland, with “the established ties between drug cartels and terrorist groups such as Hezbollah” presenting an “even graver threat to our national security.”
Luis Fortuño, governor of Puerto Rico, will testify at the hearing.
“Increased security along sea routes and strategic ports should be a part of a comprehensive border initiative in the Caribbean, similar to the US southern border with Mexico,” Fortuño said. “It is clear that federal agencies of law and order in Puerto Rico need to be strengthened.”
The Puerto Rican governor noted that efforts to combat drug trafficking on the Mexican border with the United States have resulted in an increased use of Caribbean routes by drug traffickers. The US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico have thus become the first line of defense of the US Caribbean border, he stated.
The hearing will examine the extent to which several United States agencies, including DHS, the Coast Guard, US Customs and Border Protection and the Transportation Security Administration, need to modify their approaches and resources to protect America’s Caribbean border.
“With this view, we have an opportunity we cannot miss: to formulate a joint response that is more effective and proportionate to the security challenges we have,” Fortuño said. “We have a duty to do everything in our power, both at the federal level and at the level of government of Puerto Rico, to make this issue a priority and protect the entire US border.”