The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) works to keep Americans safe at home by countering international crime, illegal drugs, and instability abroad. INL helps countries deliver justice and fairness by strengthening their police, courts, and corrections systems. These efforts reduce the amount of crime and illegal drugs reaching U.S. shores.
The seven independent countries of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines are collectively referred to as the Eastern Caribbean (EC).
These countries also comprise the Regional Security System (RSS), a collective defense organization whose responsibilities include regional law enforcement training and narcotics interdiction. The EC is a transshipment point for illicit narcotics primarily from Colombia and Venezuela destined for North American, European, and domestic Caribbean markets. The EC faces growing rates of crime. Criminal networks have taken advantage of the EC’s porous borders to facilitate the movement of firearms, drugs, and people through the region.
The EC faces high rates of violent crime, including homicide and sexual and gender-based violence and is vulnerable to the laundering and protection of illicitly-obtained funds. EC criminal justice systems are insufficiently equipped to handle the large volume of cases, contributing to high rates of pre-trial detention and weak legal, supervisory, and regulatory systems. At the same time, declining macroeconomic growth and natural disasters have left EC criminal justice sector institutions increasingly under-resourced.
INL’s efforts in the Eastern Caribbean under the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI) work to improve public safety and security, combat illicit trafficking, and strengthen justice sector institutions.
INL works to deter the trafficking of cocaine and other illicit goods through the Eastern Caribbean by building the RSS’s capacity to detect, disrupt, investigate, and dismantle drug trafficking networks and interdict illicit drugs. INL supports RSS training, including through a digital learning management system to create a more sustainable learning environment and expand access to training. INL supported the RSS Air Wing in refurbishing its maritime patrol aircraft. The RSS deploys these aircraft to spot illicit maritime traffic transiting the EC and achieved a significant increase in cocaine seizures.
Co-funded by the UK High Commission in Bridgetown, INL’s Criminal Justice Advisor (CJA) provides training and technical assistance to help Eastern Caribbean countries modernize legislation and procedures to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their criminal justice systems. The CJA has worked with partner countries to develop sentencing guidelines for criminal offenses, ensuring that EC courts are consistent in their approach to sentencing and assigning sentences proportionate to the crimes committed.
INL works with partner governments to draft model civil asset recovery legislation, which has been adopted by five Eastern Caribbean nations to date. These laws help partner-country criminal justice institutions dismantle transnational criminal organizations by seizing the proceeds of crime and reinvesting the funds into sustained law enforcement efforts. This effort provides training to financial investigators, attorneys, and judges on the new laws, as well as mentoring on civil recovery cases.