U.S. drug enforcers have put more than 50 names on a first-of-its-kind Most Wanted list of alleged narco-traffickers, the Miami Herald reports. They are called CPOTs, for Consolidated Priority Organization Targets. Miami, which for decades has been at the crossroads of the drug-smuggling trade, has the largest number of CPOTs nationwide: Nine of the suspects on the CPOT list face prosecution, extradition or indictment there, about one-third of all top foreign drug targets charged in the U.S. since the Department of Justice began the program in fall 2002. Thomas Raffanello, retired agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Miami field office, said that before CPOT, agents had been going after “low-hanging fruit” such as street gangs and local distributors.
The new strategy appears to be working. In Florida, the DEA says its cocaine seizures doubled to about 86,000 kilos during the past two years. Officials acknowledge hundreds of tons of cocaine still flow through the Caribbean and, especially, Mexico. The Justice Department says that 22 of the 58 targets on the CPOT list have been charged during the past two years. Last summer, federal officials said they cut the flow of cocaine into the United States by 10 percent by choking off key smuggling routes in the Caribbean. They cited that estimate while unsealing a Miami indictment against more than 50 people on charges that they shipped cocaine from Colombia through Caribbean countries and into South Florida.