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Drugs, Gangs, Guns and Transnational Organized Crime in the Caribbean: Observations on Managing the Crisis. Anthony T. Bryan, Ph.D. CSIS, Washington, D.C. 30 April 2012. Current Situation 1.

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Drugs, Gangs, Guns and Transnational Organized Crime in the Caribbean: Observations on Managing the Crisis

Anthony T. Bryan, Ph.D.

CSIS, Washington, D.C.

30 April 2012

current situation 1
Current Situation 1
  • None of our island states is as yet a narco state (i.e run completely by transnational criminals or drug lords)
  • Crime cartels are probably embedded in our societies facilitated by an apparent widespread culture of corruption
  • There is concern about the reach of transnational criminal organizations(TCOs) that can manipulate political parties and campaigns, infiltrate law enforcement institutions and the justice system
current situation 2
Current Situation 2
  • Every island is developing its own small mafia.
  • There are no borders in the region when it comes to the retail trade of the TCOs.
  • Caribbean leaders face an internal enemy—the so-called big fish—making fortunes off of our young people.
current situation 3
Current Situation 3
  • Pressure is strong on governments to deliver immediate results (the quick fix) or crime containment, as opposed to long-term institutional reform programs.
  • These pressures and demands may have serious implications for democratic guarantees.
  • The active participation of the military in domestic crime control runs the risk of “militarizing” law enforcement further.
current situation 4
Current Situation 4
  • Many political leaders in the region are still thinking about the phenomenon in traditional terms of criminal activity with a focus on gangs.
  • At another level there is a seeming inability of the region’s leaders to address the systemic problems of a skewed distribution of wealth, corruption, and the causes of unrelenting violence.
current situation 5
Current Situation 5
  • Ironically, at a time when CARICOM appears to be disintegrating, the further integration of the Caribbean is being managed by the TCO’s (transnational Criminal organizations.)
  • It’s the new geopolitical reality that faces our leaders.
changes in strategy
Changes in Strategy
  • A Paradigm Shift to Deal with Criminality
  • Establish a Culture of Consequences
  • Learn to Deal with Smart evolving Criminals
  • Improve technological intelligence
  • Rethink Tactics and Policies
  • Smarter Government and Private Sector Involvement
  • Promote a Culture of Accountability and Transparency
  • Understand How Crime Global Networks Function
recommendation law enforcement
Recommendation: Law Enforcement
  • Tougher law enforcement must be implemented within democratic frameworks and guarantees under the direct authority of democratically elected authorities. It must not be relinquished to private security companies or local organizations.
rec street gangs 1
Rec: Street Gangs 1
  • The issue of street gangs must be addressed.
  • Young people must have a sense of being valued and belonging to the wider community not just the gang territory.
  • There should be programs to help and protect gang members wishing to leave street gangs.
rec street gangs 2
Rec: Street Gangs 2
  • Police forces need better training to control street gangs while respecting human rights.
  • Implement a regional surveillance system of street gangs and their links to organized crime.
rec regional cooperation 1
Rec: Regional Cooperation 1
  • In no country in the region is transnational crime and its impact simply a domestic issue.
  • The TCOs and their gangs do not respect national boundaries.
  • The level of the threat has to be raised to the level of a threat to national, regional and international security.
rec regional cooperation 2
Rec: Regional Cooperation 2
  • The structure and mechanisms created in CARICOM for the staging of Cricket World Cup (CWC 2007), as well as the legacy institutions such as The Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS), the Joint Regional Communications Center (JRCC) and the Regional Intelligence Fusion Center (RIFC) may provide useful models to build upon.
rec regional cooperation 3
Rec: Regional Cooperation 3
  • Washington should focus on stemming flows of arms and money from the United States to the region.
  • More genuine cooperation among Caribbean and Central American governments could be enhanced if Mexico and Colombia, given their frontline experiences were involved in the planning.
rec financing 1
Rec: Financing 1
  • International assistance to combat the problem is a necessity.
  • International donors must be encouraged to stay the course and their resources must be properly allocated.
rec financing 2
Rec: Financing 2
  • Perhaps a multi-donor strategy, by donor nations, to lock in finances to be disbursed or withheld depending on existing circumstances and progress would be a useful innovation.
rec financing 3
Rec: Financing 3
  • Resolving the dilemma of finding sufficient financial resources to wage an effective campaign against the TCOs and their partners requires innovative approaches.
  • Caribbean nations should consider the implementation of a surtax for improved administration of justice by creating a facility to pay into a regional “lock box” whose closely monitored resources could be used to promote security on both a country-specific and regional basis.
rec prosecutions
Rec: Prosecutions

The International Commission Against Impunity Agreement in Guatemala (CCIG) should be examined by countries in the Caribbean as a way to invite international involvement in strengthening local prosecutions against corrupt officials. This might be appropriate where justice systems appear to be weak or are under threat.

rec policy
Rec: Policy

Anti-drug and anti-crime policies that have yielded such disappointing results should be subject to intense review.