Local October 21, 2013 | 7:48 am

Dominican Republic towns awash in cocaine

Pedernales, Dominican Republic.- So much cocaine washes on shore of Dominican Republic’s southernmost towns of Oviedo and Juancho in Pedernales province (southwest), that the National Drugs Control Agency (DNCD) had to build a precinct, whose agents will permanently patrol the area where people look for “square fish,” as the drug bricks are called.

The flotsam reaches the shore is the municipality, the closest to South America, and part of the large cocaine shipments bound for other countries, with Dominican territory as a bridge.

While poverty among Juancho’s some 4,000 inhabitants is rampant, many manage to scratch out a living fishing at sea and Oviedo’s famous green lagoon.

But the appearance of the “square fish” near Oviedo has fishermen venturing out to sea for days or walking along the beaches hoping for a stroke of luck

The people of Juancho and Oviedo also describe the illegal flotsam as a miracle, and appear ready to continue their search for the cocaine traffickers lose or throw overboard when spotted by U.S. or Dominican authorities patrolling one of the world’s busiest drug transport routes.

DNCD president Julio C. Souffront said the precinct was built in response to complaints by several community groups that demanded actions against the criminals who’ve arrived recently to join the search for drugs near the coasts.

Last week the DNCD seized 446 bricks of cocaine at sea aboard a boat from South America, but not before a gunfight with the traffickers on the craft and others waiting at shore, leaving one dead, at least five injured and 11 arrests.

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