Intermediate Countries

The intermediate transit countries in the Caribbean and South America have played an increasing important part in drug trafficking, as opportunities for drug interdiction are more difficult. The small Caribbean states lack resources to perform adequate law enforcement; air drops of drugs to waiting boats have become common, because no Caribbean nation has a marine or security force capable of completely controlling territorial waters. However, operations by the U.S., Jamaica and the Bahamas in the late 1990s led to a decline in cocaine trafficking, while drug trafficking increased in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico.

Stopping the flow of drugs in these transit countries goes beyond intercepting drug shipments at sea or in the air. Countries must deny traffickers safe haven and prevent the corruption of political institutions. Moreover, the financial systems in these countries must not be used to launder drug profits. The U.S. government has helped Caribbean and Central American countries implement drug control policies that include the strengthening of law enforcement and judicial institutions, the modernization of laws, the strengthening of anti-corruption measures, and the operation of joint interdiction efforts.

The key to successful drug control in the surrounding and transit countries lies in U.S. ability to develop and use effective intelligence networks. The U.S. Department of Defense uses its intelligence resources, including powerful communications equipment, to assist in the interdiction effort.

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