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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Eastern Caribbean



Challenges:  The seven island states of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines are collectively referred to as the Eastern Caribbean (EC). South American drug cartels move cocaine shipments up this island chain for onward transit to North America and Europe. Traffickers are increasingly using yachts for drug and other contraband transit while go-fast boats, fishing trawlers, and cargo ships continue major transit roles. Drug related violent crime remains high, and many of the homicides that do occur are a result of turf wars as organized groups fight to control drug distribution. Four consecutive years of declining macroeconomic growth leave EC law enforcement increasingly short of resources. National strategic law enforcement plans, including comprehensive vetting programs, have yet to be implemented, the latter creating a serious vulnerability to corruption.

Goals:  As part of the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI), INL efforts in the EC seek to create a community of trust to increase information sharing among the islands, promote criminal justice legal reform to give the region modern crime fighting tools, build up air and sea assets, and introduce recognized best practices for modern policing through operational mentors. In the area of counternarcotics intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, INL is funding a refurbishment project for the two C-26A aircraft that comprise the Regional Security System (RSS) Air Wing. In the area of rule of law, INL funding seeks to draft modern criminal legislation and empower prosecutors to lead investigations that assure strong case packages.

Accomplishments:

  • With INL assistance, in 2013 Dominica passed the region’s first comprehensive civil asset forfeiture law with a dedicated forfeiture fund used to support police, prosecutors, RSS contributions, victim restitution, and drug abuse prevention and treatment. Using the new civil asset forfeiture law, Dominica made its first civil cash seizure in September 2013 when two Venezuelan nationals were arrested with EUR 13,760 (USD 17,433) in their possession as they attempted to depart the island.
  • A USG-funded mentor helped St. Vincent upgrade its criminal code to require video interviews with suspects in all major felony investigations. This will decrease allegations of coercion and mistreatment by police, as well as retractions of confessions in court. Over 200 interviews have been conducted using the video interview equipment provided through CBSI to assist in prosecutions. In St. Vincent the first video interview of a suspect in a major felony case was introduced into evidence in court in 2013. St. Vincent and the Grenadines also receives mentoring and support from a financial crimes advisor. They recently implemented a civil asset forfeiture law, which will go into effect in 2014.
  • The INL-funded Automated Fingerprint Information System (AFIS) equipment donations have allowed EC countries to reopen cold cases. In Grenada, approximately 50% of cold cases were cleared through AFIS hits in the new digitized record system.



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