Smuggling ring busted
SANTO DOMINGO — Authorities here said they arrested a citizen of Pakistan and six others accused of running a sophisticated migrant smuggling operation in the Caribbean country. William Munoz Delgado, director of the National Department of Investigations, said the ring smuggled people from Pakistan and the Dominican Republic to the U.S. and Canada through the Caribbean country.
He identified the leader of the group as a Pakistani national, Mehmood Majeed Khan. Among those detained was an employee of the Dominican civil registry, who, Munoz said, helped members of the organization obtain counterfeit documents. The arrests followed a series of raids in three cities led by the department’s anti-terrorism unit, Munoz said. Authorities confiscated fraudulent identification and other documents during the raid and said additional suspects are being sought. Munoz said the investigation was ongoing and that officials wee trying to determine how many migrants were allegedly trafficked.
SANTO DOMINGO — A meeting aimed at resolving concerns surrounding a court decision that could leave thousands of Haitian Dominicans stateless has been postponed. The talks were due to take place May 8 in the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince. Officials did not provide a reason but said it was a mutual decision. The two countries, which share the island of Hispaniola, have met twice to talk about the court ruling and other issues, including the repatriation of hundreds of Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent.
World Bank loan
KINGSTON — Sophie Sirtaine, the World Bank’s Caribbean director, announced that Jamaica will receive $510 million under a new four-year lending program that is part of an economic reform initiative led by the struggling country’s government. Sirtaine said things were currently moving in the right direction on the island after many years of anemic growth. Jamaica has had one of the world’s slowest growing economies for four decades. Last year, Jamaica got a four-year loan package with the International Monetary Fund to stabilize its economy after a previous one forged in 2010 fizzled out. That deal was reached after the government launched a debt-swap program, its second in three years. The World Bank says its new strategy with the tourism-dependent island of 2.7 million people focuses on creating the conditions for growth and “prosperity for all Jamaicans.” Roughly half of the money from the World Bank will go into budget support to help the government’s reform efforts, such as chipping away at the high public debt. The other half will go toward various projects.
SAN JUAN — Education Secretary Rafael Roman announced he will close some 100 schools starting in August amid a drop in student population.
The closings will save some $27 million and will affect mostly elementary schools located within four miles of another. Roman did not specify which schools would be closed but he said notifications are being sent out starting this week. No layoffs will occur. The department served some 423,000 students in 2013, a number that Roman said is expected to drop to 317,000 by 2020. Some 450,000 people have emigrated in the past decade as the island struggles to emerge from an eight-year recession.
SAN JUAN — Police and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents recently swept through three public housing complexes in western Puerto Rico to arrest members of what authorities describe as a violent, drug dealing organization. Israel Alicea, the assistant special agent in charge of the DEA’s Caribbean division, said authorities arrested 18 of 48 men and women named in an indictment. Alicea said another dozen suspects were already in custody for other offenses. The others were being sought in Puerto Rico and the mainland United States. Alicea said the organization controlled the drug trade in three public housing complexes in the western city of Mayaguez since 2010. All those indicted face drug charges that carry sentences of 10 years to life in prison. Some are also suspected of involvement in six homicides.
TRINIDAD & TOBAGO
Drones to fight crime
PORT-OF-SPAIN — National Security Minister Gary Griffith said the goverment will spend $93 million to buy six helicopters and four drones to help fight crime. He said the drones will be used for surveillance and intelligence-gathering, among other things. Officials expect they will focus on the coastal areas, located just east of Venezuela. The twin-island nation of 1.3 million people has struggled with high rates of violent crime fueled by drug trafficking, especially in the capital Port-of-Spain.