Catch of the Day: Cocaine

February 9th, 2008

This is such a surreal story. I enjoyed it very much.

Via: New Zealand Herald:

At first glance, Bluefields in Nicaragua looks like any other rum-soaked, Rastafarian-packed, hammock-infested Caribbean paradise. But Bluefields has a secret.

People here don’t have to work. Every week, sometimes every day, 35kg sacks of cocaine drift in from the sea. The economy of this entire town of 50,000 tranquil souls is addicted to cocaine.

Bluefields is a creation of the gods of geography. Located halfway between the cocaine labs of Colombia and the 300 million noses of the United States, Bluefields is ground zero for cocaine transportation. Nicaraguan waters are near Colombian territorial limits, making the area extremely popular with cocaine smugglers using very small, very fast fishing boats.

The US military calls them “go fast boats”, which is a bureaucratic way of describing these mini-water-rockets. Typically these 12m boats have 800 horsepower of outboard motors bolted to the stern. A Porsche 911 Turbo, by comparison, has 485 horsepower.

While they are very fast, they are also very visible to the array of radars set up by roaming US spy planes, Coastguard cutters and helicopters which regularly monitor the speeding cocaine traffickers.

“With night vision equipment, I have seen a lit cigarette from two miles,” a US Navy pilot said. “Or the back light from their GPS screen? It looks like a billboard.”

When the Americans get close, the traffickers toss the cocaine overboard, both to eliminate evidence and lighten their load in an escape attempt.

“They throw most of it off,” says a Lt Commander in the US Coastguard. “I have been on four interdictions and we have confiscated about 6000 pounds [2720kg] of cocaine, and I’d say equal that much was dumped into the ocean.”

Those bales of cocaine float, and the currents bring them west right into the chain of islands, beaches and cays which make up the huge lagoons that surround Bluefields on Nicaragua’s Atlantic coast.

“There are no jobs here, unemployment is 85 per cent,” says Moises Arana, who was mayor of Bluefields from 2001 to 2005.

“It is sad to say, but the drugs have made contributions. Look at the beautiful houses, those mansions come from drugs. We had a women come into the local electronics store with a milk bucket stuffed full of cash. She was this little Miskito [native] woman and she had $80,000.”

Hujo Sugo, a historian of Bluefields, says the floating coke has created a new local hobby.

“People here now go beachcombing for miles, they walk until the find packets. Even the lobster fisherman now go out with the pretence of fishing but really they are looking for la langosta blanca – the white lobster.”

Posted in Off Topic | Top Of Page

4 Responses to “Catch of the Day: Cocaine”

  1. sparkylab Says:

    “la langosta blanca”

    Love it.

  2. dale Says:

    Thanks; vacation plans changed…

  3. Miraculix Says:

    Anita & I are still snickering away at “la langosta blanca” — that’s a tasty little bit of writing, that one. Brilliant.

    Are we witnessing the new face of “third world development” here?

    True “trickle-down” economics?

    This takes me back to one of the more sordid (but highly informative) moments during my seven-year itch in eL-Ay. I was with a new girlfriend of a good friend of ours in the music biz, and we were assigned to make a late-night beverage run during a gathering at their snazzy Brentwood pad.

    We motored down to the bottom of the hill, to the Ralph’s just off PCH since they were still open, and as we were leaving the store fully laden we were approached while loading the car by a very muscular and well-dressed fellow who had climbed out of a customized white Mercedes worth an easy six figures — and immediately set off my radar. My hair on end, the pistol in the waistband of his trousers was apparent in his stride.

    As he came close, it became apparent that this tanned and hulking gym rat toting blue steel and coming in our direction was smiling right at Celia, who was smiling right back. My hackles began to relax, but only a little bit.

    She had arranged to meet him while we were out, to make a deal, and said business was conducted right then and there with a minimum of muss and fuss. He was actually quite intelligent and charming, as it turned out, and once he was certain I wasn’t a narc, he was quite friendly to me as well, as I must be alright if I’m hanging out with this fine specimen of foreign female anatomy. LA logic, that.

    After several minutes, as we were winding up our little parking lot social, I made a snarky remark about the state of the world we had been discussing and asked him, with a grin, if the goods he had delivered were independent or Agency product. I will never forget the sharp snap of his head, the piercing look he gave me, or the extremely casual answer:

    “This load was definitely Agency product.”

    As a naturally curious type, and as he was quite forthcoming, I asked him a couple more questions which he also answered. That night provided the only confirmation I’ve ever needed that Gary Webb’s Dark Secret’s was 100% factual and correct.

  4. pookie Says:

    Miraculix — WOW. I’d like a first edition of your memoirs, please, whenever you get around to it …

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.