Resolution on Securing America's Caribbean Border
WHEREAS, the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in the Caribbean serve as the southernmost points of entry for people and goods coming into the United States, effectively serving as America’s Caribbean Border; and
WHEREAS, U.S. efforts to combat transnational drug trafficking organizations operating from Mexico, Colombia and Central America – through the Merida Initiative and other efforts – has resulted in a shift in drug traffickers using routes through the Caribbean as a way to gain illegal entry into the country with America’s Caribbean Border often being targeted as a U.S. arrival zone for illicit drugs, particularly cocaine from South America destined for mainland U.S. markets; and
WHEREAS, a significant amount of the cocaine now reaching the U.S. mainland comes through the Caribbean, and an estimated 70 to 80 percent of the cocaine and heroin reaching Puerto Rico from Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Colombia and other locations in the Caribbean is then transshipped to U.S. cities across the eastern seaboard from Florida to New York; and
WHEREAS, Puerto Rico and USVI are in turn a destination for illicit drug money and illegal firearms coming from the U.S. mainland to fortify the trafficking network, and as a result, Puerto Rico and USVI are experiencing unprecedented levels of violence, with a murder rate in Puerto Rico of over six times the national average and over 70 percent of murders there directly related to drug trafficking; and
WHEREAS, the Government of Puerto Rico is doing everything it can to increase public safety yet the federal government holds the law enforcement jurisdiction over the transnational criminal networks that are creating this national security issue; and
WHEREAS, a primary principle of the National Drug Control Strategy is that U.S. borders must be secured, and while significant federal law enforcement resources have been dedicated to the Southwest and Northern borders, America’s Caribbean Border remains woefully under-resourced and under-protected by federal law enforcement agencies; and
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Council of State Governments supports federal government efforts to provide the personnel, assets and other resources needed to lower drug-related violence in Puerto Rico and USVI.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Council of State Governments urges the federal government to develop and deploy a Caribbean Border Initiative, similar to the U.S. Southwest Border Initiative, to bolster resources, funding and staffing of federal law enforcement agencies in America’s Caribbean Border so that the law enforcement capabilities there can function in a manner that is proportional to the threat that the U.S. citizens there are facing.
Adopted this 3rd Day of December, 2012, at CSG’s 2012 National Conference in Austin, Texas.