A coordinated strategy against drug trafficking
The report by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) refers to the big challenges government face in confronting the persistent threat of drug trafficking, as well as money laundering schemes associated with this illegal activity that attacks the security of the United States and its allies. According to this report, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands face additional security risks for citizens due to criminality linked to the distribution and consumption of drugs. The document points out that, to fight drug trafficking, coordination between the U.S. and international agencies is especially critical in the Caribbean region, due to geography and difficulties local authorities face in combating it. The document reaffirms the strategic importance of interdiction efforts from Puerto Rico, which could involve assigning more federal security personnel to the island and other Caribbean jurisdictions. It also suggests that the Police and other local law enforcement agencies should work closer together to strengthen the fight against drug trafficking. On June 10, off the coast of Vieques, authorities seized more than $2 million in cash dropped in suitcases from a ship that could not be intercepted by a federal patrol, which shows the magnitude of drug trafficking in Puerto Rico, identified as a transshipment point for cocaine heading to the United States. Federal authorities acknowledge in the report that the limited monitoring points in many Caribbean jurisdictions represent deficiencies in curbing these activities. They mention that political instability in countries like Venezuela is a stumbling block to intercepting drug shipments originated in South América and shipped to the north mostly by fast boats. Collaboration between federal and local authorities against drug trafficking is not new. In the 1990s, Puerto Rican police officers joined frequent operations designed by the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) when the island was listed in the High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program. These initiatives gradually decreased. However, the new ONDCP report seems to suggest that information sharing strategies with state authorities and the use of new technology to fight this evil will increase. This must become true. In Puerto Rico, according to official reports, the police stop up to 20 percent of drug shipments to the United States. The portion that remains here has a dire effect on the island, where 90 percent of the murders are associated with fights over the sale or consumption of controlled substances. Most homicide victims are working-age people. Their deaths, like those of hundreds of young people who die each year from overdoses of heroin, cocaine, or other drugs, keep families in constant pain. Drug trafficking makes our streets increasingly unsafe, they become frequent scenarios for shootings between drug gangs that end up killing innocent people. This situation urges to ensure the arrest and prosecution of the shooters so that impunity does not remain as a sad message of the failure to guarantee public safety. By fully cooperating with these new federal efforts against controlled substances distribution, Puerto Rican authorities will take indispensable steps to promote a better quality of life and social harmony for the island´s residents.