US Congress to Examine Security Threat of America’s Caribbean Border

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Above: Puerto Rico Governor Luis Fortuño and US Representative Michael McCaul

By the Caribbean Journal staff

A US Congressional subcommittee will hold a hearing next month on national security threats on America’s Caribbean border.

The hearing of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations and Management, dubbed “US-Caribbean Border: Open Road for Drug Trafficking,” will be chaired by Congressman Michael McCaul (R-TX).

“The disturbing increase in drug trafficking and drug-related violence in this region is a major contributing factor. It is alarming and unacceptable,” McCaul said. “If this kind of violence were happening anywhere else where 4 million American citizens resided, it would make daily headlines.”

An estimated 30 percent of illegal drugs now reaching the US mainland come through the Caribbean. An estimated 70 percent of cocaine transiting through Puerto Rico is ends up in US mainland markets.

McCaul said the US territories were acting as an “unlocked back door” to the mainland, with “the established ties between drug cartels and terrorist groups such as Hezbollah” presenting an “even graver threat to our national security.”

Puerto Rico Governor Luis Fortuño will testify at the hearing.

“Increased security along sea routes and strategic ports should be a part of a comprehensive border initiative in the Caribbean, similar to the US southern border with Mexico,” Fortuño said. “It is clear that federal agencies of law and order in Puerto Rico need to be strengthened.”

Fortuño said efforts to combat drug trafficking on the Mexican border with the US have resulted in an increased use of Caribbean routes by drug traffickers. The US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico have thus become the first line of defence of the US Caribbean border, he said.

The hearing will examine the extent to which various US agencies, including DHS, the Coast Guard, US Customs and Border Protection and the Transportation Security Administration, need to modify their approaches and resources to protect the US’ Caribbean border.

“With this view, we have an opportunity we cannot miss: to formulate a joint response that is more effective and proportionate to the security challenges we have,” Fortuño said. “We have a duty to do everything in our power, both at the federal level and at the level of government of Puerto Rico, to make this issue a priority and protect the entire US border.”

The subcommittee has jurisdiction over all DHS operations.

 

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