By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
SIX men – five Bahamians and one Jamaican – are in police custody following a major drug bust in waters off South Andros early yesterday morning.
The US Coast Guard reported that 5,050lbs of marijuana had been seized, with an estimated wholesale value of $4.6m.
According to the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF), a team of officers from the Drug Enforcement Unit, assisted by officers from the Police Marine Support Services Unit, acting on intelligence, intercepted a 35-foot go-fast vessel in waters off Kemps Bay, South Andros, around 12.50am. A subsequent search of the vessel revealed a large quantity of marijuana, police said.
The suspects were then taken into custody for questioning and the drugs offloaded at the RBPF’s Marine Support Services Branch on East Bay Street in Nassau.
Police said that the discovery was the result of “a combination of teamwork and excellent textbook police work” which has dealt a major blow to drug traffickers. A US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) aircraft spotted the speeding boat without lights and raised the alert.
“This is another great achievement by OPBAT and highlights how our joint efforts reduce the negative impacts illicit trafficking has on the United States and the Bahamas,” said Commander Mark Driver, OPBAT director for Coast Guard aviation operations.
OPBAT - Operation Bahamas, Turks and Caicos - is a combined Coast Guard, Drug Enforcement Agency, CBP and Bahamian government partnership to combat drug smuggling to and from the Bahamas. The OPBAT operations centre is located in the US Embassy in Nassau.
In January, Police Commissioner Ellison Greenslade revealed that marijuana seizures increased last year compared to 2013. The drug figures, provided by Mr Greenslade during a review of 2014’s crime statistics at police headquarters, showed that police seized 20,602lbs of marijuana last year – 2,998 more than the 17,604lbs seized in 2013.