Cuba is not a major consumer, producer, or transit point of illicit drugs. Cuba’s domestic production and consumption remain low due to active policing, strict sentencing, and nationwide prevention and public information programs. Cuba’s intensive security presence and interdiction efforts have kept supply down and prevented traffickers from establishing a foothold. Cuba concentrates supply reduction efforts on preventing smuggling through territorial waters, rapidly collecting abandoned drugs found washed up on coastal shores, and conducting thorough airport searches. Cuba dedicates significant resources to prevent illicit drugs and their use from spreading, and regional traffickers typically avoid Cuba.
While most maritime seizures are found washed up on the shores of Cuba’s southeastern coast, Cuban authorities have reported an increase in drugs found washed up on shores in the western provinces of Pinar del Rio and Isla Juventud. The United States and Cuba continue to hold expanded bilateral discussions on law enforcement and drug control cooperation.
With respect to international cooperation, the Cuban government reports 40 bilateral agreements for counterdrug cooperation, including the U.S.-Cuba Operational Cooperation Arrangement to Counter Illicit Traffic in Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances (signed in July 2016). The U.S. Embassy maintains a U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) liaison to coordinate with Cuban law enforcement, particularly the Cuban Border Guards. USCG and Cuban authorities share tactical information related to boats transiting Cuban territorial waters suspected of trafficking and coordinate responses between operational command centers. In addition, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) established direct communications with Cuba’s National Anti-drug Directorate in July 2016. Since then, DEA has received approximately 20 requests for information related to drug investigations, as well as cooperation leading to Cuba’s successful arrest of a fugitive wanted in the United States.
Cuba has demonstrated a willingness to turn over some U.S. fugitives of high interest. Cuba and the United States continue to share communication between the national central authorities of both countries, which has greatly enhanced bilateral cooperation within the context of the U.S.- Cuba Law Enforcement Dialogue. Cuba has provided evidence and information to assist U.S. state and federal prosecutions. In another first in law enforcement cooperation, on July 7, 2018, the USCG turned over drug samples and a case package on two Jamaican nationals detained by Cuban Border Guard after the USCG collected their jettisoned drugs. Cuba continues to demonstrate a willingness to cooperate on law enforcement matters.