Drones, Ponzi Schemes and Caribbean Money Launderers


Many would say that the drug trade is responsible for much of the increase in violence that terrorizes the Caribbean region.  It would appear that the United States is not just aware of the escalation in violence but is already taking action to combat the drug trade.  In his blog, Kevin Edmonds points out that the U.S.–Caribbean border is the “Third Border,” which the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has referred to as an “open door for drug traffickers and terrorists.” Edmonds references a recent study by the National Defence University has stated that “the region's nexus to the United States uniquely positions it in the proximate U.S. geopolitical and strategic sphere. Thus, there is an incentive, if not an urgency, for the United States to proactively pursue security capacity-building measures in the Caribbean region.”

Apparently a November 2012 report by the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security recommended that Latin American drug cartels be classified as terrorist organizations “so there is increased ability to counter their threat to national security.”  In Afghanistan, US military action has seen drug traffickers being placed on ‘kill lists’ and are thus seen as ‘legitimate’ targets.  Should the same treatment be extended to Latin American cartels and their Caribbean associates?  It may already be happening! 

There has been much debate over the use of drones in Afghanistan but few are aware that this technology has been deployed in the Western Hemisphere.  In July 2012, the Jamaican Observer reported that the United States Customs and Border Protection agency (CBP which is part of the DHS) asked the US federal government for $5.8 million to operate unmanned surveillance drones in the Caribbean.  The article reported that the CBP had been quietly testing the programme in the Bahamas for 18 months with some success. 

Furthermore, last December, three students in the Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic (MFIA) brought a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) action against the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to compel the agency to release aerial surveillance footage of a 2010 raid in Jamaica.   The raid in question is of course, the 2010 raid to capture Christopher “Dudus” Coke, one of Jamaica’s most powerful drug lords, and extradite him to the United States to face charges for trafficking in narcotics and firearms.   In other words, the US acted covertly to help bring this fugitive to justice. 

In the case of Jamaica, the US demonstrated that diplomatic channels were being used to request the extradition of this criminal but the Prime Minister himself, appeared to have been associated with ‘Dudus’ and his gang. 

There are situations where wrong doers are too powerful and become too closely associated with the ruling political elite.  This appears to have been the case with Jamaica and also with Antigua.  This month, as Stanford and his lieutenants settle into their prison sentences in the United States,  Allen Stanford’s receiver and investors’ committee has sued Antigua, the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank and 23 former Stanford Financial Group Co. executives over allegations they aided the financier’s $7 billion fraud. 

The Official Stanford Investors Committee is seeking repayment of at least $90 million in documented loans Stanford made to the dual-island nation of Antigua and Barbuda and accuses its elected officials of having been “Stanford’s partners in crime.” The nation’s leaders shielded Stanford’s scheme and traded choice real estate for as much as $230 million in loans that haven’t been repaid, according to the lawsuit. USA Tax Singapore

“Antigua knowingly provided necessary assistance to Stanford’s $7 billion Ponzi scheme and, in exchange, received millions of dollars in loans whose repayment terms Stanford did not enforce,’’ the committee said in a complaint filed in Dallas federal court on Feb. 15.  “For well over a decade, Antigua was a prime participant in, and beneficiary of, the Stanford Ponzi scheme, and actively protected and shielded Stanford’s criminal enterprise from real regulatory scrutiny.’’

Now having considered Jamaica and Antigua, there is just one more Caribbean nation whose political elites are accused of shielding fugitives from justice.  In Trinidad and Tobago two financiers of the ruling political party are wanted by the US authorities “on numerous fraud and money laundering charges”.  Extradition requests have been frustrated by what appears to have been the direct intervention of Cabinet in what has been termed the Section 34 scandal.  There may or may not be a connection but in response to rumours, the Minister of National Security recently used a press conference to deny that his son, who has not been seen in public for several weeks, was being held by US Customs and Border Protection for money laundering. 

History seems to suggest that Caribbean fugitives, no matter how powerful their friends, are unable to permanently evade American authorities.  Read more on derrenjoseph.blogspot.com

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