The Green Frontier: Caribbean pipe dreams?

A fascinating look at cannabis culture and the future of legalized marijuana in one of the smallest Caribbean countires by way of the official Chinese state video service, CCTV Americas Now:

Marijuana: New Frontiers

Program notes:

CCTV’s Stephen Gibbs explores the impact that the legalization of the drug could have on one of the world’s smallest nations: St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Don’t miss the interview with the nation’s prime minister, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves.

What the report fails to mention is that St. Vincent is already a major beneficiary of the illegal drug trade through its offshore banks.

One of the first major investigations we undertook as a journalist for the late, great Santa Monica Evening Outlook back into the 1970s was of the Swedish International Bank & Trust, a St. Vincent’s based offshore bank incorporated on behalf of Erik Olof Norland, a Swedish-born con artist who specialized in the front fee scam, promising large loans in exchange for an-upfront fee.

The loans, needless to say, never materialized.

The most remarkable things about Norland were his claim to be the current bearer of the title Marquis de Lafayette and the fact that we discovered the Thai government had issued a death warrant in his name, allowing anyone to kill him in Thailand because he’d conned a prominent government official out of a small fortune.

Norland had managed to con the administration of then-Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley into giving him an elaborately hand-calligraphed parchment declaring a fine, upstanding citizen duly recognized as such by the city’s highest officials.

Only after finally forcing him to grant an interview by revealing some of what we had learned did we finally sit down in his office in a Sunset Boulevard penthouse furnished, we learned, with antiques conned out of one angry investor.

During the interview, Norland’s had often darted to a desk drawer, where he seemed to grip something rather intently. Only a day or two later did we learned from an FBI informant close to the ersatz aristocrat that he’d been gripping a pistol, angrily debating on whether or not to shoot the reporter sitting in the antique walnut chair across the desk from him.

Our two-part expose ended his banking career and led to indictments that resulted in his flight from the country.


2 responses to “The Green Frontier: Caribbean pipe dreams?

  1. Head of state?

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