U.S. Ambassador, James W. Brewster, presided over a turnover ceremony where a $1.8 million dollar expansion of the National Drug Control Directorate (DNCD) canine academy in La Cumbre was donated to the Government of the Dominican Republic, represented by the President of the DNCD, Major General Julio César Souffront Velásquez.
The $1.5 million dollar construction project by the Department of Defense’s U.S. Southern Command consisted of building modern kennels for 24 additional dogs, classrooms for training handlers and barracks to house Dominican and partner-nation students. While the Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement contributed $300,000 to purchase 40 canines, equipment and furnishings for the newly-built buildings with plans to purchase additional canines to meet the additional requirements of the DNCD. This project supports the U.S. goals in country of providing Dominican authorities with support to effectively combat transnational organized crime and prevent the transit of illegal drugs, migrant smuggling and human trafficking.
Since 1988, the U.S. Embassy has supported the DNCD canine program with the initial purchase of 15 trained narcotics-canines and the building of kennels at the DNCD headquarters followed by the purchase of additional trained narcotics canines and training for handlers in subsequent years. In 2007, working with the DNCD and National Army of the Dominican Republic, the U.S. Embassy helped to establish the canine academy at the historic Army Fort in La Cumbre, with DNCD assuming control of the Army facility. With the assistance of the U.S. Embassy, the first eleven Dominican-trained canines and canine handlers graduated in 2012 from the original canine academy.
During the ceremony, Ambassador Brewster stated “The U.S Embassy will continue to support the DNCD canine academy with the purchase of additional canines that will serve as an important tool in the fight against narco-traffickers and improve overall citizen security in the Dominican Republic by enhancing security at the airports, seaports and along the border. These trained canines will also serve to protect the efficient flow of trade, promote tourism and prevent narco-traffickers from exploiting the critical infrastructure of the Dominican Republic.”
Ambassador Brewster concluded by expressing the United States’ commitment to continued close collaboration with the Government of the Dominican Republic to combat narco-trafficking and create a more secure future for its citizens.