It’s all history now, but the story goes like this. In the late 1970s and early 80s, this beautiful cay in the Exumas was the personal island headquarters used by legendary Carlos Lehder for his high-tech approach to smuggling cocaine from Columbia to the U.S. while the Bahamian government turned a blind eye. Lehder was the first to use small planes to bring cocaine into various out-of-the-way runways in Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas, evading U.S. authorities, and greatly increasing the amount of cocaine brought into the States. In its prime, Lehder’s operation earned him $250 to $300 million a year and was responsible for smuggling up to 75% of the cocaine used in the US.
His story reads like fiction and probably much of it is. It is hard to dig up the real facts since he is now in an undisclosed Federal prison in the US in what is more or less a witness protection program. Why? The story goes that he exchanged a reduced sentence for information that lead to the conviction of Panamanian President Noriega. A megomaniac, Lehder claims the US failed to keep its obligations to him and he is thought to still be involved in legal battles to reduce his life plus 135 year sentence.
Fascinating to say the least and just the kind of story for movies (yes, Blow with Johnny Depp is based on this) and books.
We are currently researching his real story for part of a book we are working on. We would love to hear from those who have factual knowledge of this period of history for Norman’s Cay. We are not interested in hearsay. And of course we’d love to interview Lehder himself. Does anyone know if this is possible?
Norman’s Cay is once again a safe, beautiful anchorage with MacDuff’s Bar and Grill currently undergoing renovations.