Illegal drug trade in the Bahamas

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The illegal drug trade in The Bahamas involves trans-shipment of cocaine and marijuana through The Bahamas to the United States.

The 1980s[edit]

In 1982, a report entitled "The Bahamas: A Nation For Sale" by investigative television journalist Brian Ross was aired on NBC in the United States. The report claimed Lynden Pindling and his government accepted bribes from Colombian drug smugglers, particularly the notorious Carlos Lehder, co-founder of the Medellín Cartel, in exchange for allowing the smugglers to use the Bahamas as a transshipment point to smuggle Colombian cocaine into the US. Through murder and extortion, Lehder had gained complete control over the Norman's Cay in Exuma, which became the chief base for smuggling cocaine into the United States.

Lehder boasted to the Colombian media about his involvement in drug trafficking at Norman's Cay and about giving hundreds of thousands of dollars in payoffs to the ruling Progressive Liberal Party, but Pindling vigorously denied the accusations, and made a testy appearance on NBC to rebut them. However, the public outcry led to the creation in 1984 of a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the drug trade and official corruption in the Bahamas.

A review of Pindling's personal finances by the Commission found that he had spent eight times his reported total earnings from 1977 to 1984. According to the Inquiry: "The prime minister and Lady Pindling have received at least $57.3 million in cash. Explanations for some of these deposits were given... but could not be verified."

As a result of the Inquiry, five government ministers either resigned or were dismissed.[1]


  1. ^ Griffith, Ivelaw L. (1996-7), "Illicit Arms Trafficking, Corruption, and Governance in the Caribbean", Dickinson Journal of International Law, p494.