Bahamian Government Claims It Fights Drugs With AM-Lehder Trial Bjt
NASSAU, Bahamas (AP) _ The Bahamian government took out a full-page advertisement Tuesday in U.S. and Caribbean newspapers in an attempt at ″setting the record straight″ about new allegations of corruption and lack of anti-drug efforts.
The Bahamas decided to buy the ads as part of its response to charges of Bahamian drug corruption raised in various quarters, including the federal trial of Colombia’s reputed drug kingpin, Carlos Lehder Rivas, government spokesman Bill Kalis said.
The ad in The New York Times, Washington Post, Miami Herald and other newspapers was addressed to ″the people of the United States of America″ and signed by Bahamian Attorney General Paul L. Adderly.
It says the Commonwealth of the Bahamas has devoted much of its limited resources to fighting drugs and needs more U.S. aid.
Specifically, the ad cites the need for ″more air search radar installations, more joint bases strategically located with helicopter strike force teams, more air reconnaissance patrols, more sea patrols and intensified joint undercover and conspiracy investigations.″
It says the archipelago of 700 islands and keys and 250,000 people spends 13 percent of its national budget on law enforcement, mostly fighting drugs produced in South America and bound for users in the United States.
Published reports have said grand juries in Tampa and Miami are investigating Prime Minister Sir Lynden O. Pindling. And reports in Congress have raised doubts about Bahamian drug-fighting efforts.
″He started thinking about this during these latest allegations at the Lehder trial,″ Kalis said.
″As you know, the position was not to respond while the testimony was being heard. Now that the testimony is over, the prime minister wanted to take an opportunity to make the Bahamian position better known.″
During Lehder’s trial in Jacksonville, U.S. Attorney Robert Merkle had produced testimony that Pindling was receiving drug payoffs of up to $5 million. Lehder allegedly used Norman’s Cay in the Bahamas as a key transfer point for Colombian cocaine bound for Florida and Georgia.
Adderly’s advertisement Tuesday called attention to a 1984 Royal Commission of Inquiry report in the Bahamas that criticized lack of cooperation by U.S. authorities during its probe into official drug corruption. That commission found evidence of drug corruption in some levels of the Bahamian government and law enforcement, but did not tie Pindling to drug payoffs.
Last week, Pindling issued a statement to the news media and at a rally flatly denying taking drug payoffs.
Pindling said he was not surprised by the allegations at Lehder’s trial but would be surprised if any of the grand juries reportedly investigating his affairs indicted him.
Pindling was re-elected last year after criticizing the corruption allegations, which first surfaced in a 1983 report. He has been in power since breaking the hold of the white-minority government in 1967.