The DEA Just Destroyed 460,000 Pounds of Marijuana in the Bahamas
The DEA’s Cannabis Eradication Program is tasked with destroying grows in the United States. So what is it doing in the Bahamas?
200,000 marijuana plants weighing nearly half a million pounds have been reduced to a smoldering heap of ash—and not in the good way— thanks to the efforts of the DEA. The February 22 eradication came after aerial surveillance spotted a large cannabis grow on Andros Island in The Bahamas on February 6.
International Law Enforcement Initiative Eradicates 200,000 Cannabis Plants in The Bahamas
“Operation Bahamas” isn’t the name of some straight-to-DVD spring breakers spinoff you’d find in the bargain bin at your local Target. It is the actual name of a joint narcotics interdiction patrol involving the U.S. Coast Guard, the DEA and the Royal Bahamas Police Force. In other words, its a drug enforcement partnership between U.S. officials and the government of the Bahamas.
The goal of Operation Bahamas is to disrupt and dismantle drug smuggling operations in The Bahamas and Turks and Caicos. Certainly, Friday’s eradication initiative must have taken a decent portion out of those operations.
Members of the U.S. Coast Guard and the Royal Bahamas Police Force discovered a single marijuana farm with more than 200,000 plants. A powerful odor of fresh cannabis plants revealed the grow’s location. The plants were in various stages of growth, but the DEA says the total weight of the plants was over 460,000 pounds. They destroyed all of it.
Anatomy of an Internation Cannabis Eradication Raid
Operation Bahamas and the many other programs just like it around the hemisphere are part of the U.S. federal government’s Cannabis Eradication Program. The Cannabis Eradication Program is the DEA’s “aggressive” program to “halt the spread of cannabis cultivation in the United States.” And it is the one and only nationwide law enforcement program that exclusively targets cannabis cultivation.
The federal government began funding eradication programs in Hawaii and California in 1979. Since then, the program has grown substantially. It provides support for state and local law enforcement agency efforts to destroy and disrupt cannabis farms. And through joint initiatives with other federal law enforcement agencies, the program has been able to reach beyond its ostensibly domestic boundaries. And that’s exactly what just happened in the Bahamas, where a DEA program to destroy U.S. grown cannabis put boots on the ground in another country, just to eradicate 200,000 cannabis plants.
The Cannabis Eradication Program makes use of highly militarized tactics. Actions involve the use of military aircraft, ground teams and poisonous chemicals and herbicides. The “eradication” itself is a messy and environmentally destructive process. Grows as large as the one spotted February 6 by a U.S. Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter often include homes and other infrastructure. But when “Delegated Examining Unit” members comb through an area to identify cannabis plants, they can disrupt and dismantle more than just the plants.
Stories about these raids and eradications come straight from police press briefings, which present them as unvarnished success stories. But what falls out of these narratives are who was cultivating that cannabis farm, why and for whom they grew it, and how and for whom they became the target of an aggressive enforcement action.