Antigua and Barbuda
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    Profile

    Antigua and Barbuda

    Capital

    Saint John's

    Gross domestic product (GDP)

    USD 1,661.96 million

    Income group

    High income

    Population

    97,118

    Area

    440 km²

    Geography type

    Island

    3.34

    Criminality score

    167th of 193 countries

    30th of 35 countries in Americas

    9th of 13 countries in Caribbean

    Criminal market

    3.05

    Human trafficking

    4.00

    Human smuggling

    2.00

    Arms trafficking

    3.00

    Flora crimes

    1.00

    Fauna crimes

    3.50

    Non-renewable resource crimes

    1.50

    Heroin trade

    3.00

    Cocaine trade

    6.00

    Cannabis trade

    5.00

    Synthetic drug trade

    1.50

    Criminal actors

    3.63

    Mafia-style groups

    3.00

    Criminal networks

    3.00

    State-embedded actors

    3.00

    Foreign actors

    5.50

    4.33

    Resilience score

    118th of 193 countries

    26th of 35 countries in Americas

    12th of 13 countries in Caribbean

    Political leadership and governance

    4.50

    Government transparency and accountability

    5.00

    International cooperation

    5.00

    National policies and laws

    5.00

    Judicial system and detention

    3.00

    Law enforcement

    4.00

    Territorial integrity

    4.00

    Anti-money laundering

    2.50

    Economic regulatory capacity

    5.00

    Victim and witness support

    4.00

    Prevention

    4.50

    Non-state actors

    5.50

    4.33 3.63 3.05 4.33 3.63 3.05

    4.33

    Resilience score

    118th of 193 countries

    26th of 35 countries in Americas

    12th of 13 countries in Caribbean

    Political leadership and governance

    4.50

    Government transparency and accountability

    5.00

    International cooperation

    5.00

    National policies and laws

    5.00

    Judicial system and detention

    3.00

    Law enforcement

    4.00

    Territorial integrity

    4.00

    Anti-money laundering

    2.50

    Economic regulatory capacity

    5.00

    Victim and witness support

    4.00

    Prevention

    4.50

    Non-state actors

    5.50

    Analysis

    01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09

    People

    Human trafficking is increasingly popular in Antigua and Barbuda, with criminal syndicates enticing women from abroad, primarily Saint Lucia, Jamaica and Guyana, with false promises of jobs. Once in the country, women are forced into prostitution, domestic servitude or retail work. Criminal groups reportedly operate jointly with immigration officers and senior officials by bribing them. Additionally, anecdotal evidence suggests that caregivers and parents are responsible for forcing children into sexual exploitation. Antigua is a child-sex-tourism destination for locals and tourists. There are also allegations against off-duty police officers, claiming the latter are complicit in human trafficking, helping criminal groups by impeding investigations or persuading victims not to report crimes.

    There is little evidence of human smuggling in Antigua and Barbuda. When it does occur, it is enabled through document forgery for migration purposes, which is reported to have taken place with Antiguan and Barbudan passports.

    Trade

    Gun crime among the youth on the island is increasing and reports suggest that security services either provide the weapons themselves or facilitate gun crime by allowing organized groups to traffic weapons into the country. Arms trafficking seems to be the reason for the high rates of serious crime within the Caribbean region.

    Environment

    While no evidence supports the existence of a flora crimes market in Antigua and Barbuda, there is a small market for illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and trafficking of conch. Although fauna crimes may be committed by individuals, export to destination markets requires illegal purchasers, which effectively creates criminal networks. Additionally, there is no evidence to suggest a non-renewable-resources crime market exists.

    Drugs

    Heroin is neither produced nor commonly shipped on the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) route, which would imply there is no significant heroin market in Antigua and Barbuda. The country, however, is situated in the middle of major drug trafficking routes that connect major narcotics source countries in South America with major destination markets in the North (e.g. the United Kingdom and the US). This, alongside lack of monitoring and policing of territorial waters, makes Antigua and Barbuda a key transit point for cocaine. Cocaine is trafficked via marine routes in small speedboats, yachts, fishing vessels and large freighters. Traffickers usually deliver and offload their drug shipments either on beaches or offshore, where the drug loads are moved to smaller boats, from whereon drug shipments make their way to destination markets. Drug traffickers also transport cocaine and cannabis to Antigua and Barbuda on commercial airlines. There have been allegations of state actors facilitating the drug trade to some extent.

    Antigua and Barbuda cultivates small quantities of cannabis in the hilly and sparsely populated areas of the countryside, mainly for local consumption. Production alone, however, is unable to sustain the demand, which is why cannabis is trafficked from Jamaica, St Vincent and Colombia. Due to territorial vulnerabilities, cannabis is smuggled to Antigua and Barbuda by sea and air routes. There have been reports of synthetic drug seizures, but these have been isolated incidents, with smuggling attempts carried out by individuals. It is therefore difficult to verify a possible link between synthetic drugs and organized crime.

    Criminal Actors

    It is likely that foreign actors are engaging in the drug trade in Antigua and Barbuda, as the island country is too small to organize trafficking flows on its own. Instead, Guatemalans, Jamaicans and Guyanese are supposedly involved in cocaine and cannabis trafficking operations, as well as human trafficking. Antigua and Barbuda has had a long history of corruption since it gained independence from the United Kingdom. Currently, however, reports suggest only low-level state actors facilitate criminal markets, including arms, drug and human trafficking.

    Criminal networks appear to be concentrated in poorer areas and mostly engage in theft, car break-ins and home invasions. Nevertheless, reports indicate that loose networks are becoming more involved in the trafficking of women from abroad and forcing them into sexual exploitation. Allegedly, local criminal networks also cooperate with transnational organizations in trafficking drugs. Officials maintain that gangs that operate in the country typically involve young men, and are not highly organized. Arguably, however, these gangs could be considered mafia-style groups.

    Leadership and governance

    The current government appears to take a strong stance on organized crime, with the administration raising the bar in terms of addressing high-level corruption and organized crime more generally. Notably, however, Antigua and Barbuda’s prime minister, Gaston Browne, has criticized the blacklisting of Caribbean countries as non-cooperative tax jurisdictions a number of times. In addition, public sentiment towards the government is positive and the democratic process is free of criminal influence. While Antigua and Barbuda has had a long history of corruption, the current government has increased transparency and established oversight mechanisms. Public access to information is also well established in practice and although the anti-corruption legal framework is fairly resilient, it has its shortcomings. Additionally, the government lacks resources to undertake investigations into corruption, and anonymity and security for whistle-blowers is not guaranteed.

    Antigua and Barbuda is party to all relevant international treaties and conventions pertaining to organized crime. The country is also well represented in the CARICOM and cooperates on matters of security with other members. In recognizing the threat of organized crime, the CARICOM’s Implementation Agency for Crime and Security has developed the Caribbean Counter Illicit Trafficking Strategy in collaboration with regional and international stakeholders. In line with Antigua and Barbuda’s international commitments, the legal framework is robust enough to respond to the organized crime threats the country is facing. More specifically, attention has been dedicated to drug trafficking and use, with a new five-year plan drafted, seeking to coordinate the island country’s anti-drug initiative. Importantly, cannabis legislation was made more lenient, legalizing certain aspects of cannabis use in the country.

    Criminal justice and security

    Despite the independence of the judiciary, inadequacies in the judicial process have created distrust in the judicial system and authorities more generally. The judiciary is arguably inefficient as criminal procedures often take long to progress, creating a backlog of cases. There is only one prison in Antigua and Barbuda, and poor living conditions render the institution non-compliant to international standards. In addition, overpopulation is reportedly a serious concern, making formal prison control difficult and creating opportunity for corruption among prison guards, which is arguably high. The Royal Antigua and Barbuda Police Force is the principal agency that bears responsibility for maintaining law and order in the country. Corruption, particularly the practice of accepting bribes, is present within police ranks, but allegations of misconduct are investigated and measures against transgressors are taken. Although the country is a transit point for drug trafficking, and border control is weak, no law enforcement unit specifically tasked with countering organized crime exists. Instead, sniffer-dog units are deployed and searches are conducted on all inbound flights from Jamaica. Additional measures have recently been taken to improve security through better control of sea borders.

    Economic and financial environment

    Antigua and Barbuda is a well-known tax sheltering country, which is why there is a high level of political commitment to the identification and mitigation of money laundering and terrorist financing risks. To that end, the Office of National Drug and Money Laundering Control Policy (ONDCP) cooperates with financial institutions in Antigua and Barbuda, supervising and encouraging the fulfilment of mechanisms aimed at identifying and preventing money laundering. The ONDCP also supervises financial institutions and monitors whether they are being employed as depositories for legitimate or criminal funds that may be used to finance terrorism. Overall, great efforts have been made to enact new legislation to fight the laundering of criminal proceeds while keeping up with international standards. The government has mechanisms to ensure that legitimate businesses are able to operate free from criminal activities. Foreign and domestic investments are encouraged, and authorities provide aftercare and monitoring for established investors. Although investor protection is in place, the economic regulatory environment in the country is only moderately conducive to doing business.

    Civil society and social protection

    Antigua and Barbuda has an office to support victims of domestic violence, and shelters, funded by the directorate of gender affairs, are available. Positive steps have been taken to increase victim support, including training for law enforcement on anti-human trafficking, as well as increased investigations into human trafficking by the Antigua and Barbuda Trafficking in Persons Prevention Committee, which is the agency responsible for coordinating national anti-human-trafficking efforts. The committee, which has also produced a national education campaign that provides information on red flags and trends in organized crime and human trafficking, includes regional partnerships with Belize, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and the Bahamas to formalize and strengthen regional cooperation mechanisms. In regard to drug trafficking, the Substance Abuse and Prevention Division of the Ministry of Health, Social Transformation and Consumer Affairs plays a vital role in raising public awareness of the risks of drug abuse. There is an anti-drug plan in place, which focuses on awareness and education programmes, counselling and treatment initiatives, and rehabilitation and reintegration. There are active NGOs and some that engage with victims of trafficking, offering them shelter. Overall, however, NGOs are inadequately funded and often under political influence. Although press freedom is generally respected in the country, sedition laws threaten journalistic independence. While most media outlets are owned by entities closely affiliated with the political elite, the country’s prime minister has on occasion labelled critical media outlets as a national threat and criticized their disseminating ‘fake news’.

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    The criminal markets score is represented by the pyramid base size and the criminal actors score is represented by the pyramid height, on a scale ranging from 1 to 10. The resilience score is represented by the panel height, which can be identified by the side of the panel.

    This report was funded in part by a grant from the United States Department of State.

    ENACT is funded by the European Union and implemented by the Institute for Security Studies and INTERPOL, in affiliation with the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime.

    The opinions, findings and conclusions stated herein are those of the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime and do not necessarily reflect those of the United States Department of State.