The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) works to keep Americans safe at home by countering international crime, illegal drugs, and instability abroad. INL helps countries deliver justice and fairness by strengthening their police, courts, and corrections systems. These efforts reduce the amount of crime and illegal drugs reaching U.S. shores.
Located 47 nautical miles east of Miami, Florida, The Bahamas is a prime shipping route for transnational criminal organizations to traffic drugs and firearms, and smuggle migrants. To counter these threats, INL assistance provided under the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI) aims to increase the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF)’s law enforcement and counternarcotics capabilities to enhance their ability to control The Bahamas’s vast maritime territory.
The United States maintains a well-established security partnership with The Bahamas, with military and federal law enforcement participating in Operation Bahamas, Turks and Caicos (OPBAT), a decades-old trilateral counternarcotics operation among the United States, The Bahamas, and Turks and Caicos. On the U.S. side, the U.S. Coast Guard, Drug Enforcement Administration, and Department of State lead this engagement. INL also works to promote criminal justice sector reform and build forensic capacity. INL supports The Bahamas’s efforts to establish a legislative framework and an organizational structure to address corruption and financial crime, issues closely connected with transnational criminal activities.
- INL Builds Bahamian Maritime Interdiction Capacity: To help intercept criminal threats between the United States and the Caribbean Basin, INL donated four high performance marine interception boats. Between 2013-2019, these vessels participated in numerous intelligence-driven interdiction operations under OPBAT, resulting in the seizure of nearly eight metric tons of cocaine. These seizures are significant since the narcotic is often smuggled to the United States through this region in 1-5 kilogram amounts.
- U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Training Builds Bahamian Maritime Interdiction Capacity: In 2019, a USCG Mobile Training Team (MTT) delivered a Boarding Officer Course for the Bahamas Customs Marine Unit. This was the fourth of eight courses in a three-year agreement between INL and the USCG. Future training will focus on increasing Bahamian operational capacity to participate in OPBAT. In 2019, OPBAT seized 219 metric tons of illegal drugs, exceeding total seizures in the prior year by 775%.