Top Officials Involved in Smuggling Ring? – BahamasB2B Exclusive

Wednesday 06th, July 2011 / 11:21 Published by

CriminalsPolice, customs officials, politicians and business people are allegedly involved in a massive smuggling ring that has been in operation for over a decade.

The Tribune newspaper today is reporting that high-end vehicles like Mercedes, Jaguars and Lexus were registered in the names of dead people to avoid detection.

The cars were registered and licensed as if they had insurance, when in fact, they did not.

The Tribune reports that, “diverse groups of people, ranging from local businessmen to politicians are believed to have been duped into purchasing these stolen vehicles.”

How naive.  BahamasB2B knows better.

The nation’s largest website, which has been quietly investigating this operation for more than five years, believes that high-ranking police officers, businessmen, politicians and customs officers assisted in the importation and sale of the vehicles.

“Some of the people we’ve seen driving around in Jaguars are not the type of people who could afford those high-end cars.  It was quite obvious that something was fishy,” says a B2B staffer who wishes to remain anonymous so crooked police officers do not retaliate.

“This is the offshoot of an operation uncovered years ago in Andros,” the B2B staffer added.

Back in March, 2005, Paul Turnquest at the Tribune wrote a story about an Internal Review that had been launched to investigate more than $250,000 worth of vehicles, boats and other items discovered in North Andros.

Individuals were allegedly investigated about items that were “under-priced or uncustomed goods”.

At that time, a reliable source told Turnquest that the seizure is simply the “tip of the iceberg” as abuses of Customs collections have been going on for more than 10 years in that area.

That is when BahamasB2B started its own investigation.

We discovered that the goods were being shipped to Andros, then forwarded to New Providence.

It was uncovered back then that top-ranking police officers and customs officials were more than likely involved in the operation.

Police, at the time, assured the public that the investigation into the widespread smuggling occurring in North Andros would not be allowed to fizzle.

However, the matter was whitewashed over instead.

The head of Customs and the Police Commissioner, at that time, both let the investigation wither because, allegedly, they knew that top-ranking officers were involved, along with prominent business people.

It was alleged by BahamasB2B back then that the gang was also involved in human trafficking.

Shortly after the initial uncovering of the smuggling ring in Andros, another 24 shipments were confiscated in March, 2005, due to either being uncustomed or under-valued.

Minister of State for Finance James Smith, who also had responsibility for Customs, told The Tribune newspaper back then that the shipments have already been processed and their owners were categorized as “innocent third parties” in what has become widely labelled as a “syndicate-like” Custom’s scam.

Smith said that because the owners of the shipments were categorized as innocent third parties, they were only charged stamp tax. Smith said the government had suspicions as to whom the goods were destined for in Nassau, but would not release that information at the time.

Mr Smith’s naivety and/or ignorance was questioned by this website.

It should not be forgotten that, in 1998, one of the largest and most sophisticated alien smuggling and money laundering cases in U.S. history was dismantled after an investigation, known as Operation Seek and Keep, identified the players in a smuggling cartel that operated on a global level.

The smuggling route was from India to Moscow to Cuba – then from Cuba via boat to the Bahamas. From the Bahamas, boats or planes transported the human cargo to Miami. An alternate route took some loads from Cuba to Ecuador. From Ecuador, they were flown to Miami or driven through Mexico to the southern U.S. border.

The Bahama Journal said at the time that, “the stench of corruption goes all the way to the top, and that a number of socially prominent politicians, churchmen, business people and other community notables are deeply involved in a number of scandals.”

The head of Customs at that time, who later retired as a millionaire, was proud to announce a bust that involved a paltry $250,000 worth of items. Some believe that the bust was, basically a PR stunt to make the media think something was being done about the matter.

The media dropped the stories.

It was assumed at the time that the high-raking police officers and business people implicated in the scandals were “duped” into participating. In fact, they were merely clever enough to be deeply involved, but always kept their hands clean. That way, if the operation was ever discovered, lower ranking officers would take the fall.

Instead, nobody was prosecuted, or even arrested.

This involvement of top-ranking police and Customs officials was allegedly confirmed when police officers and Customs officials for Andros were transferred, rather than arrested.

The group simply moved to Exuma, which led American Homeland Security and FBI detectives, in October 2010, to expose serious allegations against The Royal Bahamas Police Force, The Customs Department and the Road Traffic officials on that island.

Two trailers with stolen vehicles inside, that were in the possession of a local businessman, were confiscated. The trailers had been cleared by Customs officers who claimed they thoroughly inspected them.

There were 17 vehicles that had been stolen out of the USA, hidden in trailers that had cases of juice and water at the front section.

It was uncovered at that time that a female Customs officer was involved. The woman had been transferred to Exuma from Andros, where the earlier stolen car theft ring was uncovered.

FBI detectives at the time allegedly could not figure out how the vehicles left the port of Florida at a shipping terminal on a vessel bound for Exuma without detection.

In today’s Tribune, it is revealed that the crooks used what is commonly referred to as ‘river rats’, boats that can traverse the Miami river, which is not as well policed as ports like in Miami or Fort Lauderdale. The boats utilize a ‘roll on, roll off’ system that makes it easy for a few cars to be stored in and driven out of each container that is loaded onto a vessel.

The containers could then be driven on or off a vessel when the right crooked Customs officer was on duty.

It is suspected that no one will be arrested in this latest scam because the high-ranking police officers, Customs officials, politicians and prominent business people will be labelled “innocent bystanders”, just like the three times before.

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