In the late 1970s, the Lehder-Jung partnership began to diverge, due to some combination of Lehder’s megalomania and his secret scheming to secure a personal Bahamian island as an all-purpose headquarters for his operations.
That island was Norman’s Cay, which at that point consisted of a marina, a yacht club, approximately 100 private homes, and an airstrip. In 1978, Lehder began buying up property and harassing and threatening the island’s residents; at one point, a yacht was found drifting off the coast with the corpse of one of its owners aboard. Lehder is estimated to have spent $4.5 million on the island in total.
As Lehder paid or forced the local population to leave, and began to assume total control of the island, Norman’s Cay became his lawless private fiefdom. By this time, he had forced Jung out of the operation, and international criminal financier Robert Vesco had allegedly become a partner. Jung used his prior connections to take up a more modest line of independent smuggling for Pablo Escobar and stayed out of Lehder’s way.
From 1978 through 1982, the Cay was the Caribbean’s main drug-smuggling hub, and a tropical hideaway and playground for Lehder and associates. They flew cocaine in from Colombia on all sorts of aircraft able to land fully loaded on the airstrip, reloaded it into various small aircraft, and then distributed it to locations in Georgia, Florida, and the Carolinas. Lehder was believed to have received 1 kilo out of every 4 that was transported through Norman’s Cay. Continue Reading (7 minute read)