Cooperation between regional allies and partners resulted in the arrest of four men smuggling nearly 3,000 pounds (1,361 kilograms) of marijuana in the Bahamas. The Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF), the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI), and the United States collaborated to apprehend the high-speed vessel near Ragged Island in Bahamian waters, according to a news release from the RBDF.
The late December 2023 interception was made by the HMBS Kamalamee, a high-speed patrol boat from the Ragged Island Detachment, with the aid of Operations Bahamas and Turks and Caicos (OPBAT) personnel. Three Bahamian men and one Jamaican man were arrested. Upon return to the Coral Harbor Base, the men were found to have been transporting 2,908 pounds (1,319 kg) of marijuana with an estimated street value of almost $3 million.
“This successful joint operation underscores the effective collaboration between the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, and its regional law enforcement partners in combatting illicit activities within the region,” the RBDF news release stated.
The OPBAT agreement was entered into by the Bahamian, British, and U.S. governments in 1982. The governments agreed to cooperate and enhance the ability of the Bahamian government to interdict, prosecute, and convict drug traffickers. The agreement significantly reduced seams in the protection of the islands and contiguous waters.
The Kamalamee, in service since 2017, is one of nine patrol boats produced for the Bahamas in a military upgrade known as the Sandy Bottom Project.
The 2014 agreement between the government of the Bahamas and Dutch companies Van Oord and Damen delivered nine new patrol and auxiliary craft. The companies also built and improved jetties, docks and breakwaters for RBDF vessels in Coral Harbour, Ragged Island, and Inagua.