The rise in drug consumption and trafficking in the Dominican Republic in recent years is due to the country's geographical location, the penetration of broad swaths of society by the illegal drug trade and the operations of Mexican drug cartels and the Russian mob, an adviser to the government on anti-drug policy, Marino Castillo, said.

"We have the entry of the worst traditional organized crime groups, such as the Russians, and agressive cartels, like Mexico's Sinaloa and Los Zetas, (into the country)," Castillo said in a statement.

Nearly 300,000 young people are now addicted to drugs in the Dominican Republic as a result of the arrival in the country of international drug trafficking organizations, Castillo said.

The illegal drug trade has made progress in the country due to its infiltration of the armed forces, police, political parties, business, banking and the real estate industry, Castillo said.

"Our physical geography really hurts us, putting us in a very difficult position. The drugs used to pass through here, but now we have the movement of nearly 2 million containers, an immense free trade zone structure, agricultural production and five airports," the official said.

Our physical geography really hurts us, putting us in a very difficult position.

- Marino Castillo, an adviser to the government on anti-drug policy

The flow of drugs through the country has helped create a domestic market for illegal narcotics, Castillo said.

The government plans to implement new strategies to reduce maritime smuggling of drugs, the official said.

"We have to make a new and greater effort on the seas, and on the land borders, which continue to be easy to penetrate," Castillo said.

"The government has an agreement and is moving ahead with the purchase of a sophisticated radar system from Israel. We are making efforts with the United States, (and) the Netherlands and Colombia are participating. The idea is to acquire speedboats, well-equipped, with good radar, to do on the seas what we did on land," Castillo said.

The high-level government official said he backed the creation of special courts to handle drug cases.

"We are going to create courts with national jurisdiction so that serious drug and drug trafficking cases can be heard by them with more rigorous procedures. I have said that we are going to look at the problems with bail because drug crimes require continuous, prolonged and transnational pursuit," Castillo said.

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