from The Essential Paradise, series sourcebook
These clandestine operations are designed to harass or curtail the harvesting, distribution and importation of illegal narcotics into North America through the use of distraction and direct action. The vigilantism results in some success but also some insurmountable obstacles to Cavaliere's remaining in the US, ultimately occasioning his relocation to The British Paradise Islands.
Since his high-school days Cavaliere has been outspoken about the social, physical and intellectual detriments in the use of recreational narcotic drugs. In the early 1980s he and Dave Holloway, who shares his convictions on the subject, began a clandestine movement, modelled on espionage organisations they had seen in films and in novels, to interdict the transport of illegal drugs through The Bahamas and southeastern Florida. Enlisting and training a dedicated team (some say numbering in the hundreds), they outfit new-build fiberglass fast-patrol boats, modelled after PT Boats of the 1940s, and restore an impressive collection of American WW2 light and heavy bombers, including A26s, B25s, B24s and B17s, ostensibly as showpieces but which are deployed on aggressive raids against known narcotics-processing and transfer sites in the southern Caribbean and in Columbia and Venezuela.
Associates included in the anti-narcotics operations include close friend Chris Kite, cousin-by-marriage Danny Lavender, Strawberry Records investor and co-producer John Corelli, recording engineer Alan Standish, and Tobacco Road guitarist and composer Barry Hemphill. The group refer to themselves as 'The Magnificent Seven' though eschew all suggestions to establish a formal name for their navy and air force.
Direct action Edit
The group conduct both waterborne and airborne missions, typically relying on stealth or surprise to gain advantages. Waterborne missions, relying on fast patrol boats, are usually launched against active shipments in transit, encountering the smuggler's craft and offering terms for a surrender of personel and goods (especially piracy). Eleven such missions are initiated before any smugglers agree to forfeit their freedom and cargo; each time St Simon's group opens fire to disable the boat and, usually, finishes up returning man-to-man fire with the defending smugglers, of whom approximately 24 are lost (killed) before water operations end in January 1986.
Airborne missions are conducted as bombing or strafing raids modelled on those of the US Army's 8th Air Force in England during the 1939-1945 War. Sorties of up to seven bomber aircraft, usually with support from P40, P47, or P51 fighters, run repetitive missions to attack crops, airfields and shipments in transit. The narcotics traders are typically stymied; most, though having several jets and helicopters at their disposal, do not have the airborne fire power to pose defence, or even mount offence, against a flight of radial-engined bombers dropping incendiary bombs from low level. Though the antique aeroplanes are often damaged, usually by gunfire, none are lost as a result of flying such missions on the interdiction effort, and the St Simon's group lose no personel.
In homage to the patriotism and derring-do of that era, both naval and aircraft crews dress and equip themselves with authentic 1940s-style clothing, weapons and accoutrement. Military-style ranks are assigned and observed, and code names applied to both missions and mission leaders. Most communication is done via coded VHF transmissions over clear conversation channels. Holloway and Cavaliere each fly as pilot commander on numerous occasions, both being fully FAA-certified for all aircraft types used.
Their first major target is the semiautonomous island of St Simon’s Cay, in The Bahamas, long known and permitted by the US Drug Enforcement Administration and by Bahamian authorities as a refueling and transfer depot for the Fidelas narcotics cartel. After a two-day firefight in March 1982 they succeed in liberating the island, earning gratitude from local residents who had been oppressed, many to the point of near-slavery, by the cartel. Their constitution for small-scale self-sufficiency there becomes a model for later policies in the British Paradise Islands.
Later interdiction efforts, though effective and promising, prove ultimately futile after the Reagan administration, earlier encouraged by the similarly secret efforts of American industrialist and independent presidential candidate H Ross Perot, initiates stronger but less-well-focused DEA enforcement in the area. Threatening the exposure of the two well-known entertainers’ covert operations, the DEA surreptitiously issue a cease-and-desist order to Cavaliere and Holloway, who, in the course of events, initially decline to curtail work that has been producing results. In the event, Holloway responds favourably to the order, shifting key assets, including aircraft registered to him and used on the interdiction raids, off St Simon’s to support the appearance of operations being shut down. Giving this show of appeasement, Holloway successfully avoids further entanglement with US authorities.
Fallout from DEA intervention Edit
Cavaliere will go less easily out of what he considers vital work. Without Holloway's participation or knowledge he launches one last operation, effecting the apprehension, by FBI officials in the Exuma Cays, of several stalwart members of the Lactos family narcotics ring. The mission is successful in eliminating a present threat; but Cavaliere’s anonymity becomes vulnerable, some say by design on the part of the DEA, who have heretofore kept quiet about his identity as a well-known entertainer and businessman in the interests of political and public-relations goodwill.
Using his public persona and popularity, Cavaliere retaliates, issuing several accusatory statements to the press, essentially blaming the US government for putting politics ahead of real improvement in what becomes known to American politicians as the ‘war on drugs’. Though Perot, Donald Rumsfeld, and others quietly approve of his efforts, he is accused by law enforcement as having been only a hindrance to official narcotics interdiction and by fans of The Strawberries as having become irrelevant, self-righteous and peevish. Three separate courts attempt to indict him for narcotics trafficking, each encountering somewhat embarrassing legal snags as grand juries recognise that none of his interdiction activity has been done within American jurisdiction and that he has never transported nor held custody of any narcotics if not to convey them towards American authorities, who then may accept credit for the confiscation.
Attempt to kidnap Kimberley Cavaliere Edit
In late 1985 the US government takes up strong-arm tactics to intimidate Cavaliere into compliance, first by threatening his legitimate tax refunds and inhibiting timely processing of filming and location permits for Cavaliere and Holloway's White Knight Productions. On 11 February 1986, Jeanne Cavaliere is shopping at the Boscov’s department store in Tobasco Mall, Tobasco, Florida, with Kimberley, then 2 years old, and her adopted daughter Susan (‘Susie’) when two ‘well-dressed’ men approach them near the jewellry counter. The men are later identified as Robert Criffin and Stephen ‘Foxy’ Davey, undercover agents of the DEA.
In the course of misleading Mrs Cavaliere into believing they are admirers or associates of her husband, Criffin distracts her while Davey attempts to push the buggy containing Kimberley towards the nearest exit doors. As neither of the men is able to confine 6-year-old Susie, she chases after the buggy, crying aloud for help, till Davey gets the buggy stuck in the automatically-closing door of the store and runs off without the toddler, who is upset but unhurt.
In formal statements to the media, Jonathan Cavaliere claims the DEA have premeditated the kidnapping as an attempt at political or personal retaliation for his success in identifying and hampering narcotics traffickers throughout southern Florida and the western Caribbean. Despite their agents being named in incident reports, the DEA have never acknowledged or denied any complicity.
Cavaliere and his wife later cite the attempted abduction of their child as ‘the last straw’ and, over Easter week 1986, stealthily relocate their family, aboard their yacht Excalibur, to St Simon’s Cay. Fittingly, the house they take there, now known as Sandswell, is one seized by Cavaliere and Holloway from the Fidelas cartel.
Scrupulous record-keeping Edit
The properties at St Simon’s, coming directly from the ownership of narcotics figures either killed or incarcerated, are the only material assets personally appropriated by either Cavaliere or Holloway in all their successful interceptions of drug money or actual narcotics in the whole course of their operations. They keep copious computerised and physical records, maintaining a policy of photographing all activities (though not all participants) and are able to document, to the dollar and to the ounce, all spoils.
Seizures of narcotics and weapons are disposed of in creative, often amusing ways; videotapes of open-field destruction, often by explosives, and keys to rented-car boots or airport-passenger lockers are delivered in envelopes and forwarded to appropriate authorities via US Mail. Though little cash is turned over to government officials, much is donated to worthwhile charities supporting recovering abusers and family victims. One noteworthy recipient of $250,000 is Meriwether House, the orphanage from which the Cavalieres adopt Susie.
Formation of airline business Edit
One unplanned but peaceful and lucrative outcome of these interdiction efforts is the corporate organisation of what becomes Tobasco and Out Island Airways, a regional carrier flying older, classic airliners from the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, many of which are acquired as part of Cavaliere and Holloway’s growing collection of civil and military aircraft of the same period. TOIA will go on to set several propeller-driven passenger-mileage records and to establish moneymaking air routes throughout The Bahamas, the Caribbean and eastern Florida.
The airline business facilitates further successes in Cavaliere and Holloway's investments in 1950s-era places of hospitality throughout The Bahamas, in eastern Florida, and elsewhere.
Import on the Two Paradises story arcs Edit
Being outside (prior to) the core story arcs of most of the Paradise-related stories, Cavaliere's interdiction efforts are mentioned only occasionally within Two Paradises episodes, typically without much detail, as though to lend a shadiness to his background and to suggest hidden potency with regard to his negotiating abilities. As Peer of the Territory, he carries a reputation for being a shrewd, principled patriot who cares deeply for the plight of all fellow residents and belongers in Paradise. Though often called a 'cowboy', a 'loose cannon', and a 'bull in the china shop' for his frank, assertive debating style, he is more respected for being a seasoned veteran with real experience in taking action than panned as merely an uninterested former rock star or as a pretentious lightweight in politics.
In A Night On The Town, Cavaliere (now Lord Paradise) intervenes in the sham kidnapping of Lady Susie and her friend Darby by the US embassy in the Paradise Islands, countering their spurious claim that the girls were spying on the embassy with the successful expulsion of the arrogant American ambassador. Lady Susie orchestrates an interview with the two Social Circles reporters whom she had met whilst dancing that night, who are eager to question her father about his controversial activities; but he, characteristically, gives only general, polite statements and allows his daughter to remain the focus of their upcoming article.
In A Global Awakening, Lord Paradise takes Chloe Jamison with him to meet an American lawyer who is representing a US Federal claim to compel Sir Jonathan to remit back taxes, though his real reason is to harrass him and to coerce him to return to US jurisdiction where he can be detained and arraigned for his illegal involvement in the interdiction effort. Leaving Chloe, the diplomat's daughter, alone with him, he enables the situation by which she must defend Paradisian principles to the calloused, unimpressed American. Later, alone with Chloe, he defends his own position with the Biblical argument of 'an eye for an eye'. Chloe is left to decide for herself whether Sir Jonathan, or the United States government, has the stronger credibility on a moral level.
Doc. 5.70. b. 2015.1217. ©Jonnie Comet Productions Ltd. All rights reserved.