Dominican Republic at center of resurged drug route: AP
Santo Domingo.- Oncethe imposing P-3 air surveillance aircraft takes off, three US Customs andBorder Protection (CBP) agents activate a high-tech radar to detect anything outof the ordinary on the vast Caribbean Sea.
It could be a fishingboat without nets in sight; a speedboat at sea and loaded with more fuel drums thanpassengers to a suspect sailboat with excessive load.
"For us, every blipcan be a trafficker," says a veteran agent JD, describing the barelyvisible white blips on his radar screen during a flight over the Caribbean andSouth America last month.
As quoted by TheAssociated Press using only his initials, the agent stressed the sensitivity oftheir mission detecting and intercepting
He said he and hiscolleagues increasingly spot drug shipments through the Caribbean to the UnitedStates or easternmost points.
Although the easternPacific remains the most traveled cocaine smuggling route, the Caribbeanregains prominence decades after US authorities shut almost all routes to southFlorida in the heyday of large-scale smuggling that began in 1970.
60 to 100 tons
The US DrugEnforcement Administration (DEA) estimates that smugglers have increased cocaineshipments through the Caribbean from around 60 to some 100 tons in recentyears.