Prime Minister Perry Christie has lauded the efforts of local national security agencies and Operation Bahamas Turks and Caicos (OPBAT) as officials were able to seize 686 pounds of cocaine, 3,269 pounds of marijuana and 26,000 marijuana plants through 12 operations between September 2011 and 2012.
The nation’s chief, who was speaking at the opening ceremony for the US Partnership Dialogue yesterday, said through a joint partnership with the United States Bureau of alcohol, tobacco, firearms and explosives (ATF) 405 illegal firearms were also recovered.
However, Mr. Christie also lamented yesterday that national security difficulties facing The Bahamas like illegal migration, human and drug trafficking continues to be a financial burden for The Bahamas.
The nation’s chief said the government spent nearly $1 million for repatriation of over 3,000 illegal migrants.
He added that the government acknowledges the victims of human trafficking.
“The Government of The Bahamas fully maintains that human trafficking is a severe violation of human rights and views it as the modern day slave trade that it is. In recognising that human trafficking remains one of the highest priorities for the United States Government and in keeping with The Bahamas national and international commitment to mitigate human trafficking, the Bahamas Government has extensively intensified its efforts to lessen the problem through close cooperation with all the relevant government and non-government local stakeholders as well as those of the United States,” he said.
“Today marks the reaffirmation of The Bahamas’ pledge to combat this serious problem, and I look forward to continued bilateral relations in every area of mutual interest.”
The prime minister said the government also faces the challenge of illicit drug trafficking which gives way to illegal firearm trafficking.
“Sadly 60 per cent of violent crimes in The Bahamas are directly related to the use of illegal firearms, which are usually acquired as a direct consequence of the international drug trade. Despite these problems, the Bahamas Government has made important strides to effectively resolve its national security concerns, both through domestic efforts, as well as through its ongoing partnership with the relevant US security forces and entities.”
Leading the United States’ interagency delegation is Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Western Hemisphere Affairs, Liliana Ayalde, who agreed that Monday’s meeting underscored the close ties between the U.S. and The Bahamas and the commitment to build upon their strong and historic foundations.
“We have a shared interest in ensuring the safety of visitors and citizens alike in The Bahamas and we recognise the importance of combating crime and illegal activities that threaten citizens of both our countries,” she said
“We know the sinister and subversive actors who reject the rule of law also flout national borders, so we must join in common purpose and methods.”
Ms. Ayalde however admitted that just as the means and methods of criminals continue to change, so must that of law enforcement officials.
“This meeting presents an opportunity to exchange not only information, but also perspectives and priorities and to identify how we can more effectively coordinate our effort s to plan for the weeks and months ahead,” the deputy assistant secretary said.
“I am confident that we will walk away with an enhanced joint strategy that will contribute to safer, more peaceful and more prosperous Bahamian communities.”