Continuing U.S.-Bahamian partnership on issues of mutual concern, the U.S. Embassy’s International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) Section and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) partnered to provide ten Bahamian Police Force, Defense Force, Customs, and Immigration officers with advanced training on port security September 14-20 at the Port of Miami (PortMiami). The Bahamian law enforcement officials joined eight Customs and Excise Officers from Trinidad and Tobago at CBP’s National Anti-Terrorism Contraband Enforcement School, where they discussed countering illicit trafficking in the seaport environment with their U.S. counterparts.
The week-long opportunity built on an INL-funded study tour to Port Miami in February, which introduced Bahamian officials to Port Miami’s holistic, multi-agency, multi-stakeholder approach to port security. The September follow-on training covered specific topics in greater detail including: cargo targeting and tracking, landed quantity verification, container concealment, cargo concealment, active inspections, and internal conspiracies.
In addition to learning about CBP’s layered approach to seaport operations in Miami, the week-long advanced training provided the Bahamian delegation with the opportunity to brief their law enforcement counterparts, including members of the Miami-Dade Auto Theft Task Force, on container smuggling trends in The Bahamas. The two-way information exchange highlighted topics of mutual concern in port security, including how to interdict stolen vehicles and illicit firearms bound for the Caribbean.
The Contraband Enforcement School trainers addressed mutual concerns through a hands-on container inspection during which participants learned how CBP targets and identifies illicit outbound firearms. As part of the inspection, the Bahamian participants assisted CBP officers in uncovering a contraband firearm in a container bound for Honduras. The firearm was hidden in a cardboard box filled with used clothing, toys, and beauty products that was part of a 40ft container filled with household effects.
One Bahamian participant noted that the enforcement school “exceeded expectations.” Another said he appreciated how “forthright” and “genuine” the CBP trainers were with the delegation, not only about best practices, but also about challenges, adding that “nothing was sugar coated.”
Funding for the port security program was provided under the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative. The program paves the way for future cooperation between The Bahamas and Port Miami—both on an operational level as well as on topics of shared concern and jurisdiction such as maritime enforcement and cruise operations/security.