JAN 24 (NASSAU, BAHAMAS) – On January 16th, Operation Bahamas Turks and Caicos (OPBAT) assets were deployed after a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Air and Marine (OAM) aircraft detected a go-fast vessel eighty nautical miles south of the Grand Bahama Island. The 45 foot vessel was travelling at high speed with no lights, and transporting several barrels onboard. The CBP OAM aircraft pilot advised the ground units, comprised of Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents and Royal Bahamian Police Force, Drug Enforcement Unit (DEU) agents, of the location of the vessel once it reached land in Bootle Bay, on the west end of the Grand Bahama Island.
The DEA and DEU agents located the vessel on the beach near Holmes Rock, Grand Bahama Island and detained the eight Bahamian nationals who were hiding nearby. During the search of the vessel, agents discovered approximately 2100 pounds of marijuana in the storage compartment of the vessel. Incident to the search, the eight Bahamian nationals were detained for questioning with marijuana trafficking charges pending. The marijuana is estimated to be worth more than $1.9 million. A United States Coast Guard (USCG) helicopter assisted with the interdiction. DEA Air Wing transported the marijuana load to Nassau for processing and safekeeping.
DEA Special Agent in Charge Mark R. Trouville stated, "In the past year the hard work of the OPBAT agents have resulted in the seizure of more than 38 tons of marijuana and the arrests of at least 80 individuals. The joint efforts between the DEA and the participating agencies' strong alliance and dedication to the OPBAT mission continue to disrupt the flow of drug trafficking in the Caribbean."
"Our collective aggressive efforts involving our dedicated OPBAT members and international, federal and local enforcement authorities continue to generate positive results," said Lt. Matthew Lam, Coast Guard OPBAT Deputy Director. "This case is a great example of how we are working together every day to secure the Caribbean region and beyond."
OPBAT is a DEA- led, cooperative effort with the governments of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas, the Turks and Caicos Islands as well as the Department of State, USCG, and CBP to stop the flow of cocaine and marijuana originating in South American source countries, transiting The Bahamas destined for the United States or other jurisdictions.The OPBAT Operations Center is responsible for initiating and prosecuting law enforcement cases in the Bahamian area of responsibility (AOR). In addition, OPBAT assets regularly assist with prosecuting human smuggling and search and rescue cases throughout the AOR.