Counternarcotics and Law Enforcement Country Program: The Bahamas
The Bahamas is a major transit point for cocaine from South America bound for both the U.S. and Europe, and for marijuana from Jamaica. The Bahamas is an attractive country for transshipments of cocaine, marijuana and other illegal drugs because of its 700 islands and cays spread over an area the size of California astride maritime and aerial routes between South American drug producing countries and the United States. The Bahamas continues to participate in Operation Bahamas and Turks and Caicos (OPBAT)—a multi-agency international drug interdiction effort established in 1982 to stop the flow of cocaine and marijuana through the Caribbean. Despite OPBAT’s success in reducing the drug flow through The Bahamas over the past two decades, intelligence indicates drug flows through the Caribbean are increasing, especially from Venezuela to Hispaniola. The Bahamas route is the shortest and quickest for traffickers to move cocaine from Hispaniola to the U.S. Long-term engagement with Bahamian law enforcement has produced a counterdrug unit with an unparalleled record of success in dismantling trafficking organizations.
Stemming the flow of illegal drugs through The Bahamas, dismantling trafficking organizations and strengthening Bahamian law enforcement and judicial institutions remain top USG priorities. The USG-supported counterdrug activities assist Bahamian law enforcement and support Operation Bahamas Turks and Caicos (OPBAT) in joint narcotics interdiction missions. Programs are in place to improve the capability of the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) to detect, investigate and prosecute drug smugglers through training and technical assistance. The USG has worked with the RBPF to refurbish seized vessels and to deploy new vessels throughout Bahamian waters. The USG also provides resources for the Police College, strengthening its program to enhance investigative skills and evidentiary collection for recruits. Programs are also in place to support community-building programs in bringing a prevention message to hard to reach, at risk groups in The Bahamas. The government of The Bahamas is in the process of standing-up its Drug Secretariat and USG assistance will be required to help train and equip this organization that will be responsible for coordinating demand reduction and drug treatment programs within The Bahamas. The USG also works with the National Drug Council, NGOs and schools to target drug use by school age children and residents of the Family Islands.