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THE CARIBBEAN
In the line of fire
IPS
2/21/2003
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40 percent of US-bound drugs pass through the Caribbean.

The Caribbean drug trade is worth about US$3.3 billion a year, and almost 1 million of the region’s people consume drugs at least once a year, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Experts say money from drug trafficking in the Caribbean amounts to 3.1 percent of the region’s combined gross domestic product. International criminal organizations use the region as a transit point for drugs being shipped from South America to the United States or Europe. About $60 billion in drug money is also laundered in the Caribbean each year (LP, Dec. 30, 2002).

Almost 40 percent of illegal drugs entering the United States, including nearly half the marijuana, are shipped through the Caribbean by boat. Nearly two-thirds of the cocaine entering Europe also passes through the region.

Poverty causes many people in the region to enter the drug trade. Almost 800 Jamaicans were convicted in the United Kingdom for drug-related crimes in 2001 (LP, July 11, 2002).

In 2000, 47 percent of cocaine entering the United States passed through the Caribbean, surpassing traffic through Mexico — which had been the principal entry point — and representing an increase of 17 percent since 1990 (LP, March 12, 2001).

The UNODC estimates that between 100,000 and 125,000 people are directly linked to the production and sale of illegal drugs in the Caribbean. About 70 percent of the people who profit from the drug trade also have legal sources of income, according to Aldo Lale-Demoz, UNODC specialist for Latin America and the Caribbean.

An estimated 3.7 percent of adults in the Caribbean consume illegal drugs at least once a year, less than the global average of 4.2 percent, according to Lale-Demoz. Consumption in several countries, however, including Jamaica and some eastern Caribbean islands, is twice the global average.

Consumption in Cuba and the Dominican Republic is well below the global average, which "should be an incentive for further investment in drug prevention resources," Lale-Demoz said. The UNODC spends $4.7 million a year on drug-related projects in the Caribbean.

 

 

 


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