Report: Cuba has kept drug trafficking, consumption in check
BY MIMI WHITEFIELD
Although Cuba sits in close proximity to Caribbean drug lanes and the
U.S. market, the U.S. State Department's annual narcotics control report
found that it's not a major consumer, producer or transit point for
illegal narcotics, and drug consumption on the island remains low.
The report to Congress, which was released Friday, discusses the record
of countries around the world in combating the global drug trade. It is
the first time since 2008 that the report was rolled out to the media.
It comes at a time that William Brownfield, assistant secretary for
International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, says the United
States is experiencing "perhaps the worst drug crisis that we have seen
in the United States of America since the 1980s, and the worst heroin
and opioids crisis that we have seen in the United States in more than
But it is also a time when Cuba and the United States have begun to work
more closely on combating the drug trade. A new U.S.-Cuba drug accord
was signed in July 2016, and there is a U.S. Coast Guard liaison in the
U.S. Embassy in Havana to coordinate with Cuban law enforcement. Direct
communications between the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and
Cuba's National Anti-Drug Directorate began in July.
The Coast Guard and Cuban authorities have been sharing tactical
information on vessels transiting Cuban waters that are suspected of
trafficking and are coordinating responses.
"Cuba's intensive security presence and interdiction efforts have kept
supply down and prevented traffickers from establishing a foothold,"
said the report. "Cuba concentrates supply reduction efforts by
preventing smuggling through territorial waters, rapidly collecting
wash-ups, and conducting thorough airport searches."
CUBA'S INTENSIVE SECURITY PRESENCE AND INTERDICTION EFFORTS HAVE KEPT
SUPPLY DOWN AND PREVENTED TRAFFICKERS FROM ESTABLISHING A FOOTHOLD.
State Department report
The most recent maritime seizure of drugs by Cuban authorities occurred
in 2015. That year, the Cuban government seized 906 kilograms of illegal
drugs, including 182 kilos of cocaine, 700 kilos of marijuana and 24
kilos of hashish oil. That same year, Cuban authorities detected the
incursions of 48 suspicious go-fast boats along the island's
In July 2016, Cuban authorities sentenced 11 Cubans to 15 to 30 years in
prison for smuggling marijuana from Jamaica through Cuba to the Bahamas,
the report said. During the case, the principal organizer was extradited
from Jamaica, a country with which Cuba also shares real-time
information on suspected trafficking.
The report also looked at money laundering and financial crimes around
"The government-controlled banking sector, low internet and cell phone
usage rates, and lack of government and legal transparency render Cuba
an unattractive location for money laundering through financial
institutions," the report said.
Although the risk of money laundering is low in Cuba, the report said
Cuba has a number of "strategic deficiencies" in its
anti-money-laundering regime. Among suggestions were that Cuba increase
the transparency of its financial sector as well as in criminal
investigations and prosecutions.
Follow Mimi Whitefield on Twitter: @HeraldMimi
Source: U.S., Cuba have increased cooperation on fighting illicit drug
trafficking | Miami Herald -