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The US State Department has released its International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR) for 2015.
The drugs and chemical control section of the INCSR covers the efforts of nearly 90 countries, including Saint Lucia.
It reported extensively on the Eastern Caribbean (EC), stating that drug-related violent crime remains high, fueling public anxiety about citizen security. It also alleges that Caribbean leaders continue to turn a blind eye to corruption.
The report said the EC hosts “abundant” transshipment points for illicit narcotics primarily from Venezuela destined for North American, European, and domestic Caribbean markets.
It states that local and international law enforcement believe traffickers are increasingly using yachts for drug transit, though “go-fast” boats, fishing trawlers, and cargo ships continue to play major transit roles.
“Increasingly effective interdiction efforts due to U.S.-donated patrol boats have pushed traffickers to change tactics with cocaine-laden mother ships remaining out of patrol boat range more than 50 miles off-shore while transferring smaller parcels of drugs to “go-fast” boats,” it added.
Further, the report said that drug-related violent crime remains elevated, fueling public anxiety about citizen security.
However, homicides throughout the region decreased in 2014 from the previous year. Many homicides resulted from turf wars between organized groups fighting to control drug distribution.
The US report also stated that cannabis cultivation remains widespread within in the EC. It said marijuana and cocaine are the most widely-used drugs in the region.
It also pointed out that six consecutive years of declining or stagnant macroeconomic growth has hollowed out EC law enforcement capacity, even when compared with the bleak situation described in past reports.
“Some EC governments have made improvements to previously antiquated criminal codes, collectively passing 41 criminal justice-related laws over the previous three years,” the report added.
In 2014, drug seizures in the Eastern Caribbean totaled 1.69 metric tons (MT) of cocaine and 376.75 MT of marijuana, according to U.S. government statistics.
There were 277 drug-related arrests during the year, 234 drug-related prosecutions, and 218 convictions, according to U.S. government statistics.
The United States supports a wide range of efforts designed to address crime and violence affecting EC citizens, primarily through Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI).
CBSI is a security partnership between the United States and Caribbean nations that seeks to substantially reduce illicit trafficking, advance public safety and citizen security, and promote justice.