In a case that illustrates America's bizarre and quasi-colonial relationship with the Bahamas, the U.S. Coast Guard announced today that, while its officers were just buzzing around in Bahamian airspace over Andros Island, about 154 miles from Miami, they "smelled" marijuana. It turns out they were flying over a sprawling marijuana farm. So they burned down the farm, even though it sits in a different country.
All told, the American military destroyed 460,000 pounds of Bahamian weed.
(Multiple TV news stations first reported on the press-release earlier today.)
According to the Coast Guard Aviation Association, the U.S. government began Operation Bahamas Turks and Caicos, or OPBAT, in 1982 during the height of then-President Ronald Reagan's War on Drugs. The Coast Guard reportedly started the project after two infamous drug lords, George Jung and Carlos Lehder, had set up a huge cocaine-smuggling business in the island nation. (The men would later be profiled in the 2001 movie Blow, in which Johnny Depp played Jung.) The U.S. Army then stationed members of its 101st Airborne Division on the island from 1986 to 2007.
Even in 1990, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) criticized OPBAT as being needlessly complicated and expensive.
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"U.S. agencies are expanding air interdiction efforts in the Bahamas, including
But the Coast Guard is still apparently flying around the Bahamas to hunt for drugs.
"The efforts put forth by the Coast Guard, DEA, and the Bahamian Police Force is another success story highlighting the effectiveness of OPBAT's counter-drug operation," OPBAT Director Mike Benson said today in a media release.
Congrats on finding all of that scary pot!