Mike Bailey: Customs officer who chased drug smugglers around the Caribbean
Friday 15 July 2011
His pleasant manner as a Customs officer concealing a steely determination to catch the most wily of bootleggers, Mike Bailey achieved notable successes against drug smugglers in Britain and the British Virgin Islands. The cleverest tried to hide drugs inside a tombstone being shipped through Felixstowe. Suspecting it had a less worthy purpose, Bailey asked a stonemason to chip off the surface layer. He sealed it up again after Customs officers had removed its illegal contents. They tracked the headstone to a London warehouse, where a patient watch resulted in arrests.
Bailey's most envied role was being seconded to the West Indies for two years from 1989 to help reorganise the Customs service of BVI. There he found at least some of his officers leading happy lives uncomplicated by having to enforce regulations. "They all seemed to have relatives, friends or neighbours who believed that they need pay no duties," his wife Barbara recalled. "A father-son relationship, for example, was thought to excuse payment on a car imported by ferry from the US Virgin Islands. Mike needed all his tact and firmness to show them the error of their ways."
Britain and America share sovereignty of the archipelago, and when Bailey took over his posting he found he would also have to share a US warship or Customs launch whenever he wanted to chase smugglers. Eventually he obtained a launch to patrol the British waters in Her Majesty's exclusive service. Drugs from South America were (and probably still are) being routed to the US through the Virgins, mainly the American-owned islands but with a few people in the British Virgins accumulating unexplained wealth. Neither Bailey nor his wife, who taught English part-time in the islands' prison, ever experienced violence, but they did experience Hurricane Hugo shortly after their arrival.
Mike Bailey began his career at Harwich and served at Great Yarmouth and Tilbury before Felixstowe, where he lived for nearly 40 years, taking an active part in Rotary and bridge clubs.
Michael John Bailey, Customs officer: born Ipswich 16 March 1938; married Barbara Brinded (two sons, one daughter); died Felixstowe 30 June 2011.
Is your name now 'banned' in Saudi Arabia?
Exclusive: World’s most pristine waters are polluted by US Navy human waste
Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Any terrorist seizure of the plane ‘would have required one hell of a piece of planning’
Croatia's second city to close 'worst zoo in the world' after reports of 'nightmare' conditions and 'depressed' animals
Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 Q&A by Simon Calder: How far could it have travelled? Who was responsible and what would their plans be? And how can a plane just vanish?
Katie Hopkins continues campaign to become Britain's most hated talking head with poorly timed Bob Crow tweet
No EU referendum under Labour: Ed Miliband to reveal that vote on membership is ‘unlikely’ in next Parliament if party wins power
Grace Dent: Who cares if she spells it Barraco Barner? Gemma Worrall is more employable than some bookish arts graduate
The rise of Ukip: Study warns Labour that Eurosceptic party's electoral base now 'more working class than any of the main parties'
Europeans have ‘got whiter’ due to natural selection in past 5,000 years, scientists say
Tony Benn was entirely ineffectual - and usually wrong
- 1 Is your name now 'banned' in Saudi Arabia?
- 2 Exclusive: World’s most pristine waters are polluted by US Navy human waste
- 3 Gender-specific books demean all our children. So the Independent on Sunday will no longer review anything marketed to exclude either sex
- 4 Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 Q&A by Simon Calder: How far could it have travelled? Who was responsible and what would their plans be? And how can a plane just vanish?
- 5 'Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 plane found in Bermuda Triangle!' Viral Facebook links are profiting hackers
£50000 - £60000 per annum: Charter Selection: This well respected and exciting...
£40000 - £50000 per annum: Charter Selection: This exciting company and market...
£40000 - £60000 per annum + EXCELLENT SALARY: Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Cli...
£25,000 to £35,000: IT Connections Ltd: Signal Processing Engineer / Acoustics...