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Puerto Rico/U.S. Virgin Islands High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area: Drug Market Analysis 2009

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 2009
18 pages
Based on recent law-enforcement reports, interviews with law-enforcement and public-health officials, and statistical data, this report presents an overview of the illicit drug situation in the Puerto Rico/Virgin Islands (PR/USVI) High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), highlighting significant trends and law enforcement concerns related to the trafficking and abuse of illicit drugs.
The PR/USVI HIDTA region consists of the commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the island archipelago of the USVI, which encompasses St Croix, St. John, St. Thomas, and several other smaller islands. The HIDTA region was established to combat the trans-shipment of illicit drugs from South America through Puerto Rico and the USVI to the continental United States, as well as to target the distribution of illicit drugs within the region. Cocaine smuggling into and transportation through Puerto Rico and the USVI pose the greatest drug threat to the PR/USVI HIDTA region. Cocaine usually is readily available because of the region's proximity to reliable international sources. Successful interdiction efforts and increased cocaine transportation to lucrative markets in Europe and West Africa, however, contributed to cocaine shortages and price increases in Puerto Rico during 2008. Colombia drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) dominate wholesale cocaine and South American heroin trafficking into and through Puerto Rico and the USVI; these DTOs rely on other Caribbean-based traffickers - including Dominican, Puerto Rican, and Venezuelan DTOs and criminal groups - to transport drugs from South America into the PR/USVI HIDTA region. Dominican DTOs are increasingly controlling drug distribution in Puerto Rico. Heroin distribution and abuse are also significant threats to the HIDTA region. It is the primary drug in drug-related treatment admissions to publicly funded facilities in Puerto Rico. Marijuana is a serious threat as well. Other drugs, such as MDMA (known as ecstasy), methamphetamine, and controlled prescription drugs pose lesser threats to the region. 1 figure, 1 table, 12 notes, and a list of sources for the data and information presented