Local July 17, 2012 | 7:44 am

Beyond the Predator, top official says more needed to fight drugs

Santo Domingo.- The Presidency’s Antinarcotics Adviser on Monday said there’s as many as 300,000 boys and girls who’ve been touched by drug addiction in one way or another, while the country’s geographical position in the Caribbean puts in the sights of International drug traffickers.

Marino Vinicio Castillo, speaking one day after the unveiling of the U.S. Predator aircraft to patrol against drug trafficking, also cited the major growth of port facilities, airports, shipping’s boom and the development of industrial free zones.

"The physical geography does us much damage, putting us in a very difficult position, the drug passes through here, but we have a movement of around two million containers, a vast free zone structure, agricultural production, five international airports. They’ve begun to leave drugs, and developed a domestic market which has created between 250,000 to 300,000 boys and girls who in one way or another have been touched by addiction," the official said.

He said the eight Super Tucano aircraft acquired by the Government in 2009 to protect the airspace against drug trafficking reduced to zero the around 400 recorded flights between 2005 and 2008.

The official said however that other weak points still remain. "Now we have to make new and stronger efforts at sea and land borders, which remain very punctured. Then there’s the infiltration of the worst traditional mafia; the Russians, and aggressive Mexican cartels like the Zetas and Sinaloa and also infiltration of the scourge in the armed forces, police, political parties, business, banking, the real estate market, it’s a physical control over territory in very sensitive areas."

He said the Government is working on an agreement and the purchase of sophisticated radar from Israel. “The effort is being made and the U.S., Netherlands and Colombia are participating. The idea is to acquire well equipped, well radarized speedboats, to do at sea the same that was done on land.”

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