Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands Named as Priority to Stop Drug Trafficking
The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) has named Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands the seventh High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) ("ONDCP Designates Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands as a HIDTA," Drug Enforcement Report, Nov. 8, 1994, p. 1).
ONDCP Director Lee Brown said the designation is important because the areas have become major transshipment points for drugs from South America into the United States. "This new HIDTA will focus on the area's location as a gateway for drugs directed at the United States," Brown said. "There is a serious problem of drugs transiting through [these areas]."
Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands will now receive $9 million in extra funding that was approved by Congress in the Fiscal Year 1995 budget. Resident Commissioner Carlos Romero-Barcelo (Puerto Rico's non-voting representative in the U.S. House of Representatives) said that the money will be used to hire more agents and equipment.
"Take a look at us in comparison to Arizona," he said. "We have 3.7 million people, Arizona has 3.8 million. Arizona has about 70 FBI agents. We have 32. That gives you an idea of how understaffed we are in Puerto Rico."