SAN JUAN – Eighteen percent of the drugs that pass through the Caribbean stay in Puerto Rico, the new top cop of this U.S. commonwealth told Efe on Friday.
In his office at police headquarters in San Juan, Jose Caldero recalled that no drugs are made in Puerto Rico and their transit through the Caribbean island en route to mainland United States takes a terrible toll locally.
Narcotics trafficking “has more or less remained the same” for more than 20 years, Caldero said, based on data from U.S. intelligence agencies and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
“The evidence in recent years is that we have doubled drug seizures, but people keep trying to smuggle them in,” he said.
While crime in Puerto Rico has diminished over the past three years, from 1,136 homicides in 2011 – the highest number recorded since 1940 – to 1,005 in 2012 and 883 last year, 70 percent of murders on the island are drug-related, according to Caldero.
He noted that to understand the nature of the problem, it must be taken into account that when authorities dismantle a drug corner, other criminals immediately come along and reorganize it.
An estimated 175,000 are involved in drug trafficking in Puerto Rico, an island of 3.7 million and with some 1,600 drug corners.
Caldero noted that most of those running drug corners are young people who “don’t want to study or work” and who prefer to follow the trail of “easy money.”
“Unfortunately, drugs only take you two ways – to jail or to death,” he said.