The Eastern Caribbean encompasses a large part of the vulnerable “third border” of the United States, covering 150,000 square miles, including seven independent countries – Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The region’s weak or ineffective border controls threaten U.S. border security because they can be exploited by persons with terrorist, narcotics trafficking, and other criminal ties. Criminal activity on the islands is increasing, fueled in large part by the drug trade. Drug interdiction and money laundering, especially, are issues of critical importance in this region.
With the success of counternarcotics operations elsewhere in the hemisphere, the Eastern Caribbean could experience in drugs transiting the region toward the U.S. and Europe. At the same time, weak financial sector regulation and enforcement and a lack of training and technical resources have made it difficult for these small island states to mount an effective response to international financial crimes linked with narcotics trafficking. While local governments are increasingly aware of the narcotics threat and the ancillary negative impacts on their social fabrics and economies, none of these small states has the resources to mount an effective national response, and the fractured geography of the region and lack of assets make joint activity difficult. To ensure stability and security in the Eastern Caribbean, our goal is for governments in the region, in cooperation with regional and international partners, to disrupt and dismantle organizations engaged in transnational crime.
Narcotics Law Enforcement/Interdiction: The U.S. works with all seven islands to enhance government capacity to secure their borders and territorial seas, prevent transnational criminal organizations from entrenching themselves on the U.S. “third border,” to increase U.S.-EC cooperation in disruption of narcotics trafficking and other international crime activities, facilitate effective legislation; and promote transparency, corruption reduction, and effective information sharing among relevant agencies. The seven Eastern Caribbean states support a treaty-based Regional Security System (RSS) in addition to their own law enforcement services. The U.S. has provided support to the RSS for its twice-yearly basic training course, which includes marijuana eradication exercises for police special services units. The U.S. provides training and equipment, including replacement vehicles, computer equipment, and law enforcement equipment for RSS drug squads and anti-drug maritime units to enhance its ability to effect interdictions.
Money laundering: A critical part of disrupting criminal organizations is enhancing the governments’ capacity to disrupt and deter money laundering operations and other financial crimes. The U.S. supports training, technical assistance, mentoring and equipment for Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs) and bank regulatory bodies while providing investigative assistance to international financial crimes investigations, as well as funding the establishment of two cyber forensics labs in the region – one in Antigua and another in Trinidad.