Maritime smuggling of marijuana through the Caribbean into the United States was rampant in the late 1970s. But close cooperation between a Coast Guard cutter and undercover DEA agents resulted in a record-setting bust.
In the 1960s, marijuana emerged as the illegal recreational drug of choice for many Americans. Most of the marijuana smoked in the United States initially was homegrown or imported from Mexico. By the early 1970s, however, the U.S. Customs Service’s successful interdiction efforts along the Mexican land border and the Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA’s) in-country eradication efforts largely had choked off these sources, creating a shortage in supply. Growers in Jamaica and Colombia quickly moved to fill the gap.