US Coast Guard photos
MIAMI, USA -- A joint task force from Operation Bahamas, Turks and Caicos (OPBAT) seized 3,150 pounds of marijuana with an estimated wholesale value of over $3 million in the vicinity of Hatchet Point on Eleuthera Island, Bahamas, on Thursday.
The OPBAT task force was comprised of elements from the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the US Coast Guard, and the Bahamas Drug Enforcement Unit (DEU), a division of the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF).
While on patrol, a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) aircraft crew observed a 35-foot go-fast vessel with two outboard engines dropping off an unknown number of suspected contraband packages in the vicinity of Hatchet Point on Eleuthera Island.
An MH-60T helicopter aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater, Florida, deployed to Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center (AUTEC), launched to transport DEA and DEU agents to investigate. Upon arrival to the location on the island, the agents were able to locate 45 bales of marijuana totaling approximately 1,500 pounds and make three arrests.
The go-fast vessel departed the scene on a course for Nassau, Bahamas, but eventually ran out of fuel. A second vessel was then observed attempting to bring fuel to the disabled go-fast. DEA and DEU agents were able to pursue both targets by boat. The refueling vessel was caught and four suspects who are believed to be involved in the smuggling operation were arrested. The go-fast vessel was interdicted soon after with an additional 2,150lbs of marijuana and two suspected smugglers.
The go-fast vessel and its contraband were eventually escorted to Nassau, Bahamas. The remaining suspected smugglers and contraband were transported to Nassau, Bahamas by Coast Guard helicopter.
"I continue to be impressed by the high level of coordination, teamwork and professionalism exhibited from our OPBAT members," said Lt. Matthew Lam, Coast Guard OPBAT Deputy Director. "The partnership between US and Bahamian forces was critical to the success of this seizure and we are extremely proud of our accomplishments thus far.”
OPBAT is a combined DEA, Coast Guard, and Government of Bahamas partnership to combat drug smuggling to and from the Bahamas. The OPBAT Operations Center is responsible for initiating and prosecuting law enforcement cases in the Bahamian and Turks and Caicos area of responsibility (AOR). In addition, OPBAT assets regularly assist with prosecuting human smuggling and search and rescue cases throughout the AOR.