Drug trafficking: Puerto Rico’s gov’t asks US to react

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    This Sept. 21, 2005 file photo shows a hand-cuffed man suspected of drug-dealing making a double victory sign as he awaits booking at a police station, in Vega Baja, about 50 miles outside San Juan, Puerto Rico. Law enforcement agencies are seizing increasing amounts of suspicious cash in Puerto Rico, an apparent sign that more drug proceeds are flowing through the U.S. island territory and the Caribbean as a whole. Homeland Security reported seizures of cash rose 68 percent to nearly $2.4 million for the 12 months that ended Sept. 30, 2011. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, file)

    Drug violence isn’t solely exclusive to Mexico.

    Puerto Rico has become a key transshipment point for illegal drugs en route from South America to mainland United States, according to the Latin American Herald Tribune. Yet, Washington has been slow to react.

    “It’s not that they (should) assign us more funds than the Mexican border, it’s that they can’t ignore the flank in Puerto Rico,” Pedro Pierluisi Resident commissioner of Puerto Rico told El Nuevo Día.

    On the other southern border, the island is experiencing an increasing influx in the cocaine market that proportionally raises the level of violence in Puerto Rico than in Mexico. Last year there were 26 homicides for every 100,000 Puerto Ricans vs. 18 for every 100,000 Mexicans, according to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime.

    A report released by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) indicated that cocaine confiscations increased from 3,667 kilograms in 2009 to 6,464 kilograms in 2010.

    In November, federal agents speaking under condition of anonymity said that U.S. authorities are not designating sufficient resources to protect Puerto Rico’s coasts and its evasion of drug supplies, El Nuevo Dia reports. On Monday, Luis Fortuño asked the federal government for more funds.

    The reason why the U.S. is stalling:

    Attracting and retaining federal agents in Puerto Rico is difficult, the Washington Post reports. The local offices of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the DEA; and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement are severely understaffed.

    Do you buy that argument?

    Read it at Latin American Herald Tribune

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