Joint operations with the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) and U.S. naval forces since last October have resulted in the confiscation of over $505 million worth of drugs and the repatriation of over 1,700 illegal migrants, according to U.S. Embassy in Nassau Charge d’Affaires Stephanie Bowers.
“Our joint efforts result in greater security and safety here in The Bahamas,” said Bowers during a reception for senior government officials and members of the RBDF on board the USS Stout on Friday.
“Since last October, the beginning of the U.S. fiscal year, our joint efforts have led to 25 successful interdictions of both cocaine and marijuana, resulting in the confiscation of over 490,000 pounds of marijuana and almost 500 kilos of cocaine – representing a street value of over $505 million.
“During that same time, our joint forces interdicted 41 migrant sea vessels, resulting in the repatriation of over 1,700 illegal migrants.
“Yet we know we still have work to do.
“In April, we inaugurated the maritime surveillance radar on the island of Great Inagua.
“Within the next year, a second radar will be installed at the Coral Harbour base here in New Providence.
“Today, I am happy to announce that we just received approval to fund a third radar, which will be installed on Great Exuma.
“Once installed and operational, these radars will significantly enhance the ability to monitor illicit traffic transiting through Bahamians waters.”
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis led a delegation to Matthew Town, Inagua, in April, to commission the new $2 million long-range coastal radar system.
At the time, Minnis said it was another important step in the government’s strategy to strengthen the borders of The Bahamas to better address illegal migration, illicit drugs, gun trafficking, poaching, human trafficking and other threats to national security.
“It is a tremendous challenge to monitor the approximately 100,000 square miles of our extensive maritime domain,” he said.
“The installation of technically-advanced long-range coastal radars are an essential component in enhancing the monitoring and better protection of the borders of our far-flung island-chain.”
Minnis noted that along with plans for more radar systems, the RBDF will continue to decentralize its operations, which is a core element of the government’s national defense strategy.
In order to do this, Bowers explained on Friday that Over The Horizon Target Tracking Systems have already been installed on board all of the RBDF patrol and interdiction vessels.
“As the name implies, these systems will allow the RBDF to target illicit activity significant distances from shore and will play an instrumental role in RBDF efforts to decentralize their forces across the archipelago.
“These major investments in our partnership will contribute to the security of the southern approaches to both our nations and demonstrate our unwavering resolve to advance U.S. and Bahamian interests,” she said.
Education: Vrije Universiteit Brussel (University of Brussels), MA in Mass Communications