US, Cuba sign counter-narcotics agreement

Sunday, July 24, 2016

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HAVANA, Cuba (CMC) – The United States and Cuba have signed a counter-narcotics arrangement that will facilitate further cooperation and information sharing between both countries.

On Friday, the State Department said the agreement is part of both nations’ “common effort against illegal narcotics trafficking.”

The agreement was signed here during the third Counternarcotics Technical Exchange on Thursday.

The US delegation included working-level representatives from the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), US Coast Guard (USGC), Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Homeland Security Investigations (ICE/HSI), and the Department of State.

Counter-narcotics cooperation is part of the broader Law Enforcement Dialogue between the United States and Cuba.

According to the Washington-based Security Assistance Monitor, a project of the Center for International Policy, “Cuba collaborates with Latin American and Caribbean nations, and even the United States, on counter-narcotics efforts.”

It said Cuba maintains formal agreements to fight narco-trafficking with at least 35 countries, including Mexico, Brazil, Chile, the United Kingdom, Canada, Spain, Venezuela, Tanzania, Laos and Jamaica.

These accords allow Cuba to standardise counter-narcotics operations and send real time alerts,” the monitor said.

In 2002, the Cuban government drafted a bilateral accord for counter-narcotics cooperation with the US government, but Washington was “yet to acknowledge the accord,” until it was signed last week, the Monitor said.

It alluded to the most recent International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR) , published by the US State Department, which says a US-Cuba bilateral anti-drug agreement and greater multilateral cooperation in the region would “likely lead to improved tactics, procedures and sharing of information, leading to an increased disruption of narco-trafficking operations.”

The 2013s INCSR lauded Cuba’s policies against illicit drugs and trafficking.

“Cuba’s domestic drug production and consumption remain negligible as a result of active policing, harsh sentencing for drug offenses, and very low consumer disposable income,” the report said.

“Cuba’s counternarcotics efforts have prevented illegal narcotics trafficking from having a significant impact on the island,” it added.

Cuba is situated between the region’s top drug-producing countries in the Andean region and the region’s number one consumer country, the United States.

With the Spanish-speaking Caribbean country having 42,000 sq miles of territorial waters, 3,000 miles of shoreline and 4,195 islands and small keys, the Monitor said both Cuba and the United States “share a vested interest in improving tactics to close trafficking routes in the Caribbean and combat transnational crime.”

In spite of Cuba’s close proximity to a number of the region’s largest exporters of illegal drugs, the State Department found, “Drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) frequently attempt to avoid GOC and US government counter drug patrol vessels and aircraft by skirting Cuba’s territorial waters,” according to the Monitor.

It, however, said Cuba’s effective counter-narcotics efforts are largely attributed to bilateral interdiction, intensive police presence on the ground, and low levels of domestic illegal drug consumption.

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