The worst questions you can ask an expat in Puerto Plata are often “Where are you from?” and “Why did you move here?” Milling among the tour operators, itinerant sailors, timeshare salesmen and retirees are a number of questionable characters, colourful in the extreme, many on the run from the law for tax evasion, insurance fraud and various other white-collar offences. The Caribbean adjuster for Lloyd’s of London claims that at any given time you’ll find some of Interpol’s most-wanted wandering the streets, and a British crew filming a documentary on English expats said that every time they turned on the camera inside one popular watering-hole, a half-dozen people ran for cover. The fugitives tend to attract a bewildering variety of law enforcement officials, including undercover FBI agents, Canadian Mounted Police, international spies and insurance detectives. It lends an eerie film-noir feel to the town, augmented by the narrow streets lined with slowly decaying nineteenth-century warehouses.

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