Haitian gangs use Dominican Republic for money transfers
Although Haitian gangs do not exercise violence on the Dominican side of the border, many use the Dominican Republic as a depository for their money, a base for planning their operations, and a safe zone for the leaders’ families.
This is stated in an investigation by U.S. professor Evan Ellis, published by the Center for Strategic Studies of the Peruvian Army. The report was published in Extenso by the digital newspaper Acento.
The study, carried out by Ellis after a visit to the country at the end of last month to expose crime and violence, also points out that as the situation in Haiti has worsened, there have also been some kidnappings and crimes related to these groups on this side of the island.
The professor points out that the Haiti crisis has become the country’s leading political and security concern.
“Those consulted see the situation in Haiti as posing a serious threat to the country through the effects of violence, refugees, and other dynamics,” the research notes.
According to the study, the lens through which many Dominicans view Haiti is tinged by a complex history on the island, which includes a brutal 22-year invasion from 1822 to 1844, in which Haitian occupiers tried to eliminate the Dominican language, cultural, and religious traditions, among others.
It argues that the impact of the Haitian crisis in the Dominican Republic intensified in September 2023, when Haitian groups seeking water for irrigation began to build a canal to divert it from the Masacre River.
The study indicates that although the start of this work had been the subject of some consultation between the Haitians and the Dominicans, the size Haiti intended to give it threatened to divert the Masacre River, which would affect agriculture and the sustainability of downstream waters and have serious environmental consequences for both nations.
Illicit drug flows
On the other hand, Evan Ellis assures that the Dominican Republic is caught in the destructive interplay between youth gangs and illicit flows of drugs, money, and weapons from countries in the region.
The Latin American Studies researcher at the U.S. Army War College’s Strategic Studies Institute added that growing drug production in Colombia and Venezuela increased the trafficking of cocaine and other illicit products to the Dominican Republic.
The study argues that these flows had a corrupting impact on the country and its law enforcement system, which has long had to contend with corruption and other institutional problems.
Struggle for control over trafficking.
Due to its geographic position, the investigation notes, the country has been the scene of struggles between powerful Colombian and Mexican drug trafficking groups, and, as in other parts of the region, the Sinaloa and Jalisco New Generation cartels have established strong positions.
It notes that drug sales points in the country have increased, contributing to the deterioration of Dominican communities, which were facing economic and other problems.
The research indicates that the Dominican Republic has a large and capable security apparatus compared to its neighboring Caribbean partners, including the National Police, the Army, the National Drug Directorate (DNCD), and other bodies.
It adds that the government’s response to security challenges is hampered by corruption and institutional weaknesses. However, it has worked with neighbors like the United States to remedy deficiencies.
Concerning corruption, the study explains that those interviewed agreed that the government of Luis Abinader has made great strides in cleaning up government organizations in the security sector. However, they believe there is still much work to be done.