DTOs which are Colombian drug trafficking organizations control the cocaine wholesale and the South American heroin trafficking that takes place in and out of the Virgin Islands. The DTOs depend on other Caribbean drug traffickers which includes the Dominican, Puerto Rican, and Venezuelan drug trafficking organizations and illicit criminal organizations. They rely on them to transport the illegal drugs from South America and bring them into the Virgin Islands.
Dominican drug trafficking organizations are responsible for transporting the illegal drugs that go in and out of the U.S. Virgin Islands. DTOs are very complicated organizations that consist of highly structured command and control procedures. They not only produce the illicit drugs, but transport and distribute many of the illegal drugs in large quantities. Criminal groups vary in size; they distribute some of the drugs at retail and mid-level range. Gangs consist of at least three or more individuals with a sign, a symbol, or a name that identifies them as a collective group. These individuals engage in criminal activity such as illegal drug distribution. Their role is to create fear and intimidation.
This drug presents the most concern to the US Virgin Islands. Cocaine is very easy to find and abused often but crack cocaine abuse is the drug of choice in the US Virgin Islands. Cocaine is smuggled into the Virgin Islands and then transported through to other locations. Violence is also associated with the distribution and abuse of cocaine throughout the US Virgin Islands. It’s been reported that the retail-level distributors of cocaine are armed quite heavily and they commit violent crimes that include murder and assault in order to control the drug market.
A 2009 drug threat overview shows progress being made when it comes to cocaine seizures. Because they are so close to their source of supply, cocaine is extremely easy to get in the Virgin Islands. According to Law enforcement reports, seizures of cocaine are increasing because of their successful enforcement operations in the area.
The distribution and abuse of heroin continues to be a threat to the US Virgin Islands. In 2003, the distribution of heroin was extremely limited. Reports now show that it’s much more of a threat. Heroin is one of the most common abused drugs now.
Marijuana (cannabis) cultivation is extensive in the US Virgin Islands. Outdoor grows are very common and wide-spread. Indoor-grows of marijuana is increasing also, but most of this is for local consumption and use.
About 10,000 cannabis plants from outdoor grows were demolished in St. Croix in June of 2008 by police and officials. Because of this, many marijuana growers have moved their cultivation of marijuana indoors. There is a higher margin of profit for those who operate in-door-grows of marijuana. They are steadily producing higher potency marijuana through hydroponic methods of growing so the profit potential is better. US Virgin Island data shows that outdoor grown cannabis (marijuana) sells for $600 to $700 a pound. High potent hydroponic marijuana sells for $1,000 to $1,600 a pound.
US Virgin Islands has also been reported to be a major money laundering center for drug traffickers that operate in the region. The San Juan High Intensity Financial Crime Area (HIFCA) reports that the leaders of high-profile money laundering organizations based in Central American and South American countries maintain money laundering cells in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.