SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic – Haitian and Dominican officials agreed to coordinate efforts to fight narco-trafficking on the island the two countries share.
The Dominican National Directorate for Drug Control (DNCD) said it would share logistical and technical resources with its Haitian counterparts to track and intercept drug shipments to the island of Hispaniola.
Maj. Gen. Rolando Rosado Mateo, who heads the directorate, said President Leonel Fernández instructed the Dominican military to share resources to help Haiti fight drug trafficking.
“The president of the republic has expressed a clear desire to organize training as required and share the resources of the defense system of the Dominican Republic to help in this common struggle,” he said as the agreements were announced on April 20.
In addition to the DNCD, other specialized arms of the Dominican military, including the air force and naval units that track drug flights and marine shipments, would share information with Haiti, Rosado Mateo said.
The island of Hispaniola, the second-largest in the Caribbean, has long been a major transshipment point for drug traffickers moving cocaine and other drugs from South America to markets in the United States and Europe.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s 2010 world drug report found the share of cocaine transiting the island had dropped steadily from 2000 to 2004 before experiencing an uptick. In 2007, 9% of all cocaine bound for the United States transited the island, according to the report.
Analysts worried that narco-trafficking would increase in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake destroyed much of what little institutional capacity the country had to fight the drug trade.
The Haitian National Police, the country’s sole domestic security force, lacks the capacity and manpower to cover the country. And the vessels used by the Haitian Coast Guard, a unit of the police, don’t have the range to patrol the 1,500-kilometer (932-mile) coastline.
The Haitian government is attempting to bolster the police force, with the assistance of the UN peacekeeping mission.
Last year, Haiti seized 74.2 pounds of cocaine and 959 pounds of marijuana, according to government figures.
Through the agreement with the Dominican Republic, Haiti looks to close some of its gaps while it trains more police officers.
The two countries have long experienced tense relations, marked by distrust and vast cultural differences.
However, after the 2010 earthquake, Dominican rescue workers were the first to send assistance to Haiti. Fernández visited the neighboring country just two days after the earthquake to discuss how his country could help.
The two countries have experienced warmer relations since Fernández’s visit. Haiti President Michel Martelly visited Santo Domingo in March and received an honorary medal, the highest honor for foreign leaders, and several agreements were struck.
“I thank you on behalf of my government for the support offered by the armed forces and DNCD … and all the collaboration you have offered us in this area,” said Fritz Cineas, Haiti’s ambassador to the Dominican Republic, at the event announcing the partnership.
Cineas said narco-trafficking poses a problem for Haiti and the Dominican Republic, making it in the best interest of both countries to share resources and manpower.
Rosado Mateo said the Dominican counter-narcotics units would be available to Haiti “at all times and whenever it is necessary.”