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Continued from page 10

The Bahamas remains a central conduit for air and maritime shipments of drugs moving through the Western and Central Caribbean to the Southeastern United States. Two recent maritime operations, resulting in the seizure of 4.3 metric tons of cocaine, are indicative of the Colombian drug lords’ trafficking efforts in the Caribbean. On February 20, 1998, the Honduran vessel Nicole departed Barranquilla, Colombia en route to Turks and Caicos Islands. The DEA confirmed that this vessel was originally named the Lucent Star and had been involved with the off-loading of multi-thousand kilograms of cocaine off the coast of Haiti in 1997. The subsequent search of the vessel uncovered approximately 3,700 kilograms of cocaine. DEA also developed intelligence that the Panamanian vessel Sea Star II was suspected of smuggling multi-thousand kilograms of cocaine. On February 28, 1998, this vessel docked in Freeport, Bahamas. The search of the vessel uncovered approximately 2,000 kilograms of cocaine.

Overall seizures in the Bahamas for the first three months of 1998 surpass the total number of drug seizures in the Bahamas for the last three years combined.

Transportation groups located in the Bahamas utilize a variety of methods to move cocaine from the islands to the United States. Colombian traffickers air- drop shipments of cocaine off the coast of Jamaica, or utilize boat to boat transfers on open seas. Jamaican and Bahamian transportation groups then use Jamaican canoes to smuggle their payloads into the Bahamas, frequently using the territorial waters of Cuba to shield their movements. The cocaine is then transferred to pleasure craft which disappear into the inter-island boat traffic. Traffickers also use twin-engine turbo-prop aircraft, with long range capability and Global Positioning Systems, which pinpoint drop zones in the middle of the ocean. Cellular telephones are used to minimize their exposure to interdiction assets and ensure the smooth transfer of their cargo of cocaine for shipment into the United States.

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