Dominican Republic: Fuel smugglers cash in on Haiti chaos

Oct 14, 2022, 10:59 AM | Updated: 11:04 am

HAVANA (AP) — As gangs in Haiti blockade and loot key fuel supplies, the fuel crisis is now trickling over to the neighboring Dominican Republic.

An illicit petroleum contraband industry on the countries’ 240-mile shared border has flourished in the wake of soaring gasoline prices in Haiti.

Both Dominicans and Haitians alike buy subsidized fuel for $5 a gallon in border cities in the Dominican Republic and smuggle it to Haiti, where it goes for as much as $50 a gallon.

It has provoked gasoline shortages, long lines in gas stations and has caused sales of gasoline in the border city of Dajabón to at least double, said Santiago Riverón, the city’s mayor.

“It’s a worrying situation because it’s not just Haitians crossing to buy gasoline,” Riverón said. “Now many Dominicans are trafficking gasoline, and that poses a danger.”

Because trade of goods like flour, meat and eggs between the two countries has been slashed due Haiti’s crisis, many people have turned to contraband.

The situation in Haiti deteriorated sharply last year following the assassination of ex-Haitian President Jovenel Moïse. Things got worse in September when Prime Minister Ariel Henry announced fuel subsidies would be eliminated, causing prices to double.

Protests broke out and Haiti’s most powerful gang blockaded the country’s main fuel source in Port-Au-Prince. That, in turn, spurred shortages of other basic necessities like clean water at a time when Haiti faces its worst cholera outbreak in years, and has left hospitals and universities without a power source.

“The shortages and rise in prices of gas on the black market that we were already seeing have only grown,” said Diego Da Rin, an analyst with the International Crisis Group.

Jhonny, a resident in the border city of Pedernales in the south of the Dominican Republic, said the poorest populations have taken advantage of the surging prices, spending their days crossing gasoline back and forth along the border by motorcycle.

“Many fill up their motorcycles in the gas station, then they go home, take it out and stockpile gallons,” said Jhonny, who asked that his last name not be used.

Just two weeks ago, Dominican border security forces said they seized nearly 2,700 gallons of fuel being smuggled into Haiti in one bust alone. Ramón Pérez Fermín, vice minister of internal trade, said such encounters have grown in intensity in the past six weeks.

It’s a major economic loss for their country, Pérez Fermín noted, because the Dominican Republic has paid hefty sums of money to subsidize fuel prices in the wake of the Ukraine crisis.

In the first nine months of this year alone, the Caribbean government has paid $574 million in fuel subsidies, more than double of what they paid in the whole of 2021, he said.

“The government is subsidizing gas that doesn’t even go to the Dominican Republic,” he said. “It doesn’t end up in the hands of the Dominican consumer.”

Dominican President Luis Abinader last week said he banned two-wheeled vehicles from crossing the border in an attempt to stop the rising contraband network, and said he would close the border in the case of an international intervention in Haiti, which the United Nations Security Council will discuss Monday.

Last year, he began construction of a border wall, a measure his government says will improve security.

But Dajabón mayor Riverón and other officials said the only real solution to a situation they see view with growing concern is a foreign intervention.

“The solution is in the hands of international authorities,” Riverón said.

Associated Press writer Martín José Adames Alcántara contributed to this report from Santo Domingo.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Lead water pipes pulled from underneath the street are seen in Newark, N.J., Oct. 21, 2021. (AP Pho...

Associated Press

Biden to require cities to replace harmful lead pipes within 10 years

The Biden administration has previously said it wants all of the nation's roughly 9 million lead pipes to be removed, and rapidly.

3 days ago

Facebook's Meta logo sign is seen at the company headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., on, Oct. 28, 2...

Associated Press

Meta shuts down thousands of fake Facebook accounts that were primed to polarize voters ahead of 2024

Meta said it removed 4789 Facebook accounts in China that targeted the United States before next year’s election.

3 days ago

A demonstrator in Tel Aviv holds a sign calling for a cease-fire in the Hamas-Israel war on Nov. 21...

Associated Press

Hamas releases a third group of hostages as part of truce, and says it will seek to extend the deal

The fragile cease-fire between Israel and Hamas was back on track Sunday as the first American was released under a four-day truce.

8 days ago

Men look over the site of a deadly explosion at Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza City, Wednesday, Oct. 18, ...

Associated Press

New AP analysis of last month’s deadly Gaza hospital explosion rules out widely cited video

The Associated Press is publishing an updated visual analysis of the deadly Oct. 17 explosion at Gaza's Al-Ahli Hospital.

11 days ago

Peggy Simpson holds a photograph of law enforcement carrying Lee Harvey Oswald's gun through a hall...

Associated Press

JFK assassination remembered 60 years later by surviving witnesses to history, including AP reporter

Peggy Simpson is among the last surviving witnesses who are sharing their stories as the nation marks the 60th anniversary.

11 days ago

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Sunday, ...

Associated Press

Israeli Cabinet approves cease-fire with Hamas; deal includes release of 50 hostages

Israel’s Cabinet on Wednesday approved a cease-fire deal with the Hamas militant group that would bring a temporary halt to a devastating war.

12 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Follow @KTAR923...

Valley residents should be mindful of plumbing ahead of holidays

With Halloween in the rear-view and more holidays coming up, Day & Night recommends that Valley residents prepare accordingly.


Desert Institute for Spine Care

Desert Institute for Spine Care (DISC) wants to help Valley residents address back, neck issues through awake spine surgery

As the weather begins to change, those with back issues can no longer rely on the dry heat to aid their backs. That's where DISC comes in.



Key dates for Arizona sports fans to look forward to this fall

Fall brings new beginnings in different ways for Arizona’s professional sports teams like the Cardinals and Coyotes.

Dominican Republic: Fuel smugglers cash in on Haiti chaos