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Dominican Republic sees an increase in drug smuggling

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Cocaine-laden flights from Venezuela, in particular, are soaring as the Dominican Republic becomes the main Caribbean transit route for drugs to the United States, the officials said. It takes about only seven hours for a single-engine Cessna to take off from Venezuela, drop its tightly packed bales of cocaine onto Dominican soil from the air, and return to Venezuela for another load. A recent US State Department report said the Dominican Republic and Haiti, which share the island of Hispaniola, both saw a 38 percent increase in drug smuggling flights last year. That followed a 167 percent surge in flights to the Caribbean island from Venezuela in 2006, the report said. The Dominican Republic -- far wealthier and more stable than its neighbor -- is now getting the lion's share of the business. Adding to its relative attractions, the Dominican Republic is a hub for international shipping and sits across the Mona Passage from the US territory of Puerto Rico -- an easy springboard for shipments to the US mainland.

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