"The Dominican Republic is really the center. It's the main transit point," agrees Kevin Brown of the US Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. Drugs are then loaded on boats and sent to Puerto Rico or directly to the US, according to authorities.
It may sound like a plot from "Miami Vice." But it's a real and worsening scenario fueled by crackdowns in Mexico and Colombia, a tightening of the southwestern US border, and changes in cocaine consumption around the world.
To combat it, the Obama administration in May launched the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative with $45 million for 2010. Born amid discussions between Caribbean leaders in 2007, it is seen as an extension to US initiatives in Latin America to seize and eradicate drugs.
Those past US efforts seem to be paying off. According to the United Nations' 2010 World Drug Report, cocaine seizures more than doubled worldwide from 2000 to 2008, when 711 metric tons of cocaine were captured – an estimated 42 percent of the overall supply. (A decade ago, the UN report states, only about 24 percent of the global supply was interdicted.)