No customs means easy access
Petite Martinique, or PM, has no customs or immigration office: Whatever comes ashore is neither taxed, searched, nor accounted for. Discerning contraband transporters -- you might know them as "smugglers" or "pirates" -- know it as an ideal place to store and distribute their wares. Which has effectively created an entire economy based on the movement of said contraband. And because the island is tiny, remote, and relatively peaceful, nobody really seems to bother them.
"The whole community has been built on trade in the black market," said Chris Rundlett, who owns LTD Sailing in Grenada and runs frequent trips to the island. "It's interesting in that it's got one of the highest per-capita incomes of any Caribbean island. And it's not that anyone's super wealthy. It's just nobody is bad off."
Historically the island was a huge stopping point for alcohol and tobacco. As other illegal goods became popular in the region, PM became a hotspot for moving those as well. Keeping cargo there is simply a matter of getting it out of the country of origin, cruising up to the docks at PM, unloading it, then coming back when it's time to move further. "It could be anything now," said Rundlett. "Use your imagination." To help you: St. Vincent and the Grenadines -- the island nation just north of PM -- is a large producer of marijuana.
One might ask: "If Grenada knows this island is the Caribbean's great smuggling loophole, why doesn't it just shut them down?" And the answer is, it tried. Once. In the mid-1980s, after the US invasion, Grenada sent an envoy of six customs officers to set up an office on the island. When they arrived at the dock, a funeral procession was marching through the streets with six coffins. When an officer asked one of the locals who had died, he responded by saying, "Nobody. Yet."