CBP Office of Air and Marine Assists in $2.5 Million Drug Bust in the Bahamas
MIAMI — A joint task force from Operation Bahamas, Turks and Caicos (OPBAT) seized 2,842 pounds of marijuana worth an estimated wholesale value of over $2.5 million during three separate law enforcement operations in the Bahamas this past weekend.
The OPBAT task force was comprised of elements from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Air and Marine (OAM) and the Bahamas Drug Enforcement Unit (DEU), a division of the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF).
Over three separate nights, OAM aircrews aboard DHC-8 aircraft observed suspicious go-fast vessels transiting waters in the southeast Bahamas. Surface and air assets were subsequently dispatched to pursue and apprehend the suspected smugglers.
A deployed U.S. Coast Guard MH-60 helicopter aircrew launched and supported DEA and DEU agents during the interdictions. In addition to the narcotics seized, two smuggling vessels and a vehicle were taken into custody, and a total of six suspects were arrested.
The seized go-fast vessels and contraband were eventually escorted to Nassau, Bahamas, for further processing.
“In the maritime environment, we operate efficiently and effectively with a variety of federal, state and local partners including the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Coast Guard,” said CBP’s Miami Air and Marine Branch Director William Gibbon. “Our experienced agents in South Florida are diligently supporting an array of border security and maritime law enforcement efforts.”
"Due to our ability to adapt to the ever changing tactics of the narcotics trafficker, OPBAT remains one of the most successful drug interdiction efforts overseas," said DEA Special Agent in Charge A.D. Wright. "Our continued cooperative efforts with the governments of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas, the Turks and Caicos Islands as well as the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Department of State to deny traffickers the ability to operate effectively in the Bahamas has left an undeniable footprint in the overall strategy to combat the flow of narcotics."
OPBAT is a combined DEA, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Government of Bahamas partnership to combat drug smuggling to and from the Bahamas. The OPBAT Operations Center in Nassau 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.
"OPBAT remains vigilant in its mission to protect citizens of both the U.S. and Bahamas," said Cmdr. Mark Driver, U.S. Coast Guard OPBAT Director. "The strong partnership U.S. and Bahamian forces enjoy creates a potent deterrent to criminal activity and has resulted in the seizure of over 45 tons of narcotics since October 2014.”
Partnership efforts and community involvement are extremely important to U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s mission. CBP asks you to report maritime smuggling and other suspicious activities through 1-800-BE-ALERT or the after hours toll-free number 1-800-562-5943.
The mission of the CBP Office of Air and Marine is to serve and protect the American people. OAM applies advanced aeronautical and maritime capabilities and employs a unique skill set to preserve America’s security interests.
Follow @CBPFlorida on Twitter for more on CBP operations in Florida including Air and Marine, Border Patrol and Field Operations.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.