Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi announced today that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will soon begin a multi-faceted effort to combat drug-related violence in Puerto Rico. Details from this initiative are expected to include:
- Increased personnel from the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement .
- Expansion in the number of maritime and aviation operations to interdict drugs in and around Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
- More frequent inspections at select airports and seaports on the mainland and in Puerto Rico to curb the flow of firearms from the U.S. mainland to Puerto Rico.
- Greater federal inter-agency cooperation among DHS, the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Defense, to fight against drug trafficking and related violence in Puerto Rico.
The new plan is an outgrowth of recommendations from a task force created within DHS after DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano visited Puerto Rico in 2012. At the time, she made a personal commitment to develop a federal law enforcement strategy designed specifically to combat drug-related violence on the Island. DHS officials reportedly informed Pierluisi that the specific actions to be taken are based on an in-depth intelligence assessment that DHS conducted in an effort to understand exactly how drugs and guns are transported to Puerto Rico and to identify any law enforcement gaps that needed to be filled.
In response to news, Pierluisi stated:
“I am pleased to announce that this strategy is now becoming a reality, and that concrete and well-coordinated steps are being implemented to make Puerto Rico a safer place to live and raise a family. Some of these steps can and will be made public, and others must remain confidential for law enforcement purposes. But all of them are designed with a single goal in mind—to reduce the number of murders and other violent crimes on our streets and in our communities. I want to thank Secretary Napolitano for her personal commitment to this issue, for bearing in mind that residents of Puerto Rico are proud U.S. citizens, and for understanding that, as such, they deserve the same protection from their federal government as their fellow citizens in Florida, Texas, New York or any other state,” said Pierluisi.
Read more about drug related violence in Puerto Rico here.
Read more about DHS Secretary Napalitano’s visit to Puerto Rico here.
Puerto Rico is the last of the U.S. borders to receive federal assistance. Would this help have come sooner if Puerto Rico were a state? Read more here.