SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) – The Obama administration unveiled a new plan Friday to fight drug trafficking in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands amid concerns that the flow of cocaine from the Caribbean to the US has more than doubled in the past three years.
It is the first federal plan of its kind that outlines the steps federal authorities are taking and will take to crack down on drug trafficking specifically in both US territories.
It outlines six strategies, including sharing more intelligence, collaborating with local law enforcement and reducing drug-related violent crimes in the two territories.
Some 100 tonnes (91 metric tonnes) of cocaine passed through the Caribbean in 2013, far above the 42 tonnes (38 metric tonnes) of 2011, the plan said.
It was the highest documented cocaine flow since 2003, according to the 2014 Caribbean Border Counternarcotics Strategy.
“We were not paying the attention we should have been paying,” US Rep Jose Serrano of New York told The Associated Press in a phone interview.
“I kept saying, we have another border… it’s our territories.”
Serrano, along with Puerto Rico’s non-voting congressional delegate, Pedro Pierluisi, pushed for a bill that became law last year requiring the creation of the federal plan that will be updated every two years.
“We have always been an afterthought when we shouldn’t be,” Pierluisi said, adding that at least 90 per cent of the drugs that enter Puerto Rico end up in the US.