The Predatory "Sweet Spot" - Bahamian Tourism Police Arrest U.S. Cruise Tourist for Pot Possession

Bahamas Weekly reports that last weekend the police in Nassau, Bahamas arrested a U.S. citizen for possession of marijuana. The report says that he was a 33 year old man from Jacksonville, Florida.

The Florida man was arrested for possession of pot on Saturday, October 18, 2014.

Around 4:30 PM last Saturday, the "Tourism Policing Unit Officers" went to an unidentified cruise ship moored at Prince George Wharf where they boarded the ship and arrested the cruise tourist for a Nassau Bahamasquantity of marijuana. 

The Bahamas supplements its income by arresting cruise passengers with small amounts of pots. The police board cruise ships without either probable cause or search warrants and then fine them $500 to $2000 under threats of jail sentences of 30 - 60 days terms at Her Majesty's Prison

Violent crime is out of control in Nassau. There are many armed robberies, rapes and murders in the capital of the Bahamas each week. The country is heading toward a record number of homicides this year. The murder rate for the country of the Bahamas is substantially higher than the murder rate for Florida.

There were 970 murders in Florida with a population of over 19,000,000 in 2013. New Providence (including Nassau) in the Bahamas had over 100 murders last year even though it has only 250,000 residents.

The tourism police unit was formed to create the impression that it's safe for tourists to come ashore in Nassau.  The truth is that these local tourism police officers pend more time busting tourists than arresting armed criminals or Bahamians selling the tourists pot at the straw market or up and down Bay Street.

It's a racket we have written about many times

A reader of Cruise Law News sent his comment last month:

"As an expat who lives here in Nassau, I'm privy to a fair amount of insider news from the embassy as well as Bahamian govt employees. One friend who previously worked at the US Embassy, told me that her only job was processing US Citizens (mostly middle aged women) through the system to 1) pay their 500 fine, and 2) get them back onto their ships or back to the states after they had been caught carrying and or purchased some pitiful small amount of marijuana etc . . . and that the Bahamian government saw this as a "sweet spot" for getting revenues into the country with little effort. Entrapment being legal here is the cautionary phrase i tell people visiting us. And yes, you can't walk down by the docks WITHOUT getting harassed by guys selling weed . . . but you'll never see the bahamian cops busting them . . . cause it would affect revenues streams to the country . . . so be warned travelers!"

Update: A headline in the Nassau Tribune today: Two Murders In Six Hours. Murder count up to 93 so far.  

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Photo Credit: Wikipedia / BrokenSphere Creative Commons 3.0

Will the Cruise-Dependent Caribbean Islands Embrace Marijuana Tourism?

There's an excellent article in Travel Pulse today entitled Caribbean Tourism Officials Talk Marijuana Tourism. Written by Brian Major, the article takes a look at how the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) may capitalize on marijuana tourism.

The article cites the growing legalization of pot here in U.S., and the fact that several Caribbean islands, like Jamaica, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, and Trinidad & Tobago, are considering decriminalizing weed in the future.

As Major points out, it's no secret that people are cruising to Jamaica to smoke ganja. My observation is that the cruise lines know it and make an effort to profit from it. Why shouldn't the islands profit as Falmouth Jamaica Marijuanawell?

For passengers cruising to Falmouth, Royal Caribbean offers the "Bob Marley Experience" up to the village of Nine Miles. Carnival offers an identical tour in their "Zion Bus" to the reggae king's birthplace. These cruise lines may say that they have a "zero tolerance" policy for pot on the ship, but they don't seem to care that their guests get high in the hills, at least not when the cruise line collects $100 a person for the excursion. 

Jamaica would be smart to decriminalize the weed, tax it, profit from it, and involve its citizens in a growing and finally legal industry.  It would be one of Jamaica's few sustainable industries. 

But other island destinations seem to be heading the other direction. I have written many articles about the customs police in Nassau boarding cruise ships in port without probable cause or a search warrant and searching passenger cabins and even safes for pot when the passengers are ashore. The local magistrates will then shake down the passenger for a $1,000 or so, threatening a jail sentence of a month or two in Her Majesty's prison if the fine is not immediately paid. Meanwhile dealers are offering to sell pot to tourists up and down Bay Street.  

The revenue collected by these type of arrests is a drop in the bucket compared to the money which can be generated by legalized marijuana sales catering to the tourists. Plus the islands can avoid the bad publicity and consequences associated with burdening police resources to target and arrest tourists for non-violent misdemeanors while being unable to stop violent, armed robberies and murders in the ports of call which frighten tourists away. 

I think we are going to see trends developing in the next decade between those cruise destinations in the Caribbean which embrace or reject pot. Certain places which view marijuana in practical terms as a source of substantial business will benefit. On the other hand, those ports which view weed in emotional or religious terms, as a product of the devil, will lose visitors and revenue. 

All of these Caribbean destinations have high crime rates. St. Thomas USVI which hosted the CTO “State of the Industry” conference mentioned in the Travel Pulse article has an incredibly high murder rate of over 50 per 100,000. Jamaica's homicide rate is 39 per 100,000 and the Bahamas is 30 per 100,000. (The U.S. murder rate is 5 per 100,000 and Canada is only 2 per 100,000)

Its time to get the marijuana out of the hands of the gangs and into Caribbean owned and operated business that can be taxed and the money invested into the port islands.

 

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Read: Is Jamaica's Ganga Tour the Best Cruise Excursion? 

Photo: Top - Falmouth, Jamaica by Jim Walker

High Times in Nassau Will Cost You $500 or 2 Months in Her Majesty's Prison

This spring I wrote a couple of articles about cruise passengers getting busted in Nassau for small amounts of pot.  

In April, I wrote about seven passengers from various cruise ships who were arrested for possessing one or a few marijuana cigarettes. In several cases of those arrested, the Bahamian customs officer boarded the Miami-based ships without an arrest warrant or probable cause and confiscated the pot in the cabin safes and arrested the passengers when they returned to the ships.

I commented on the double standard where cruise lines like Royal Caribbean or NCL make hundreds of millions of dollars pushing booze on their ships to the point that the passenger are knee-walking-Nassau Bahamas Potdrunk, but the cruise ship security officers will nab a guest for a single joint and turn them over to the police.    

A common complaint we hear from those who get off the ships in Nassau is that pot dealers canvas the port and sell pot up and down Bay Street and in and around every bar in town. And of course Nassau has a major crime problem which the local police can't control.

Nonetheless, the Bahamas devotes considerable resources into making tourist-related pot arrests, even though the majority of those arrested don't even try and leave the ship with the pot.   

You can read my articles here: 

Reefer Madness: Bahamas Magistrate Taunts & Shakes Down Royal Caribbean Potheads

"Dangerous Drugs?" Nassau Nabs Two More U.S. Cruise Passengers for Pot

Well yesterday the issue resurfaced.  The Tribune newspaper reports that the Bahamian police arrested four young men in their early 20's from several cruise ship for small amounts pot.

The first two men arrested were from Georgia and disembarked an unidentified cruise ship. They had possession of one gram between them when the police arrested them on the cruise wharf.  The magistrate told them that they "could have faced up to seven years in Her Majesty’s Prison." He questioned whether they knew that marijuana was illegal in the Bahamas. One of the men told the magistrate “it’s everywhere.” He fined each passenger $300 to be paid by 5:00 P.M. or they could spend a month in prison.

The second arrest involved a passenger from Miami. The customs officers came on board the Royal Caribbean Majesty of the Seas and arrested the passenger for possessing three grams. He told the magistrate that he "wasn’t planning on bringing it off the ship.”  The magistrate threatened the passenger with "sitting in a prison cell for seven years," and fined him $400 or two months in jail. 

The third and last arrest involved another young man from Miami who was aboard the Norwegian Sky. The NCL security chief invited the Bahamian police onto the ship and led them to the passenger's cabin. The police discovered 12 joints and arrested the passenger.  The magistrate fined him $500 or 2 months in prison.

The comments to the article mocked the magistrate. My favorite was "7 years for a dime bag? GTFOH." The last comment said: " . . . stop wasting the tax payers money with this crap, I hope the fine is more than your $800 per hour charge Magistrate Forbes." 

Nassau has a major problem with gangs, drugs and armed robbery involving young violent men. But the local magistrates and police officers would rather round up stoned American cruisers with a joint or two back in the cruise ship safe. It's easy pickings for the local law enforcement and judicial departments who have otherwise lost control of Nassau. 

 

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Photo Credit:  feathersboutiquevintage.com

Norwegian Breakaway Passengers Busted in Bermuda for Drugs

Norwegian BreakawayThe Royal Gazette reports that Bermuda customs officials arrested two cruise passengers from the Norwegian Breakaway for possession of marijuana and drugs. 

A passenger from New York pleaded guilty to possessing ecstasy, cocaine and cannabis. 

According to the newspaper, cruise officials notified customs officers of a smell from the passenger's cabin. The customs officers entered and woke up a the passenger, who was sleeping. He allegedly admitted that he was in possession of the drugs. He opened the cabin safe which had "25 green pills, five yellow pills and a white powder," later determined to be ecstasy, a prescription drug and cocaine.

A local magistrate fined the passenger $3,950.

A second passenger from California also pleaded guilty to possessing pot. Cruise ship officials and customs officers searched her cabin when she was not there. They opened her cabin's safe where they found the pot. She explained she had been prescribed pot for medical reasons.

The magistrate fined her $1,000.

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Dickelbers

 

Passenger Smuggles Cocaine Aboard Carnival Liberty

Ishermon Tafari - Carnival Srug Smuggling - CocaineNews sources are reporting that a Carnival cruise passenger was busted at Port Canaveral with 12 pounds of cocaine in his suitcase after returning from a Caribbean cruise. 

The Orlando Sentinel says that Ishermon Tafari, age 31, from the country of Granada, was arrested over the weekend when federal officers entered his cabin on the Carnival Liberty cruise ship.

The officers had obtained arrest and search warrants in Orlando federal court before the cruise ship returned to port. 

When the officers searched the passenger's cabin, they found powder laundry detergent poured onto clothes at the bottom of Tafari's luggage. Approximately 12 pounds of cocaine were inside the lining of the luggage.

WFTV reports that the cruise ship made stops in Turks and Caicos, Aruba and Curacao before returning to Port Canaveral.

Investigators are looking to see if Tafari is part of a bigger smuggling operation, after discovering that he sent a text to a friend while on the trip saying, "I'm on a mission [same one, different island]."

Photo Credit:  Orlando Sentinel  

The Royal Gazette Takes a Look at Bermuda's "Reefer Madness" Policy

This week Bermuda's Royal Gazette newspaper has written about some of our articles about the island's policy of prosecuting U.S. passengers who have a few grams of pot in their cabins on cruise ships which arrive at port. 

Yesterday the Gazette published "Island’s Tough Line on Cruise Ship Passengers with Drugs is Criticised," which summarized some of our recent articles including More Reefer Madness from Bermuda’s Kangaroo Courts

Today, the newspaper published "The Best of Times, the Worst of Times." The opinion piece surprisingly agrees with our view that Bermuda's policy of shaking cruise tourists down for small amounts Bermuda Cruiseof pot, typically seized from the passengers' safes while they are ashore in Bermuda, accomplishes little except to damage the country's reputation as a tourist destination. 

Bermuda, like many island countries, could care less about principles of due process, probable cause, or search warrants regarding cruise ships. The customs officials there arrest cruise tourists to generate revenue. Unfortunately, the border and customs officials do not focus the same energy on arresting rapists or child pornographers on Bermuda-flagged cruise ships.

It's not just Bermuda that has a confused sense of priorities.

As violent crime spirals out of control in Nassau, tourism police in the Bahamas arrested a 23 year old cruise tourist from South Carolina. The Royal Bahamas Police website says that officers from the Tourism Policing Unit boarded an unidentified cruise ship at the port and arrested the passenger for possession of "dangerous drugs" on June 15th. In the Bahamas, marijuana is characterized as a "dangerous drug," even a single joint. 

Like Bermuda, the Bahamas does not care if there is probable cause for an arrest. It's a shame that these islands don't utilize these officers to target shipboard child predators or protect the passengers and crew members from robbery, rape and murder ashore.

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / JoeyBagODonuts

More Reefer Madness from Bermuda's Kangaroo Courts

Busting U.S. cruise passengers for small amounts of pot is big business for the customs officers in Bermuda. It's a topic we have written about often.

The cases all seem the same. When the cruise guests go ashore, the customs officers board the ship with their sniffer dogs and conduct warrant-less searches without probable cause. They even request the ship security personnel to open up the safes in the cabins.  A gram or two brings a $500 or so fine which the passengers pay with a credit card to avoid the threatened three month jail sentence. 

This week, a newspaper in Bermuda reports that a U.S. passenger, age 25, "Chelsea," arrived in NCL Norwegian BreakawayBermuda on NCL's Norwegian Breakaway. The customs officers found 2 grams of marijuana in her cabin's safe. A man who shared her cabin (apparently her boyfriend) said the pot was his, but that didn't stop the police from handcuffing Chelsea and hauling her off to jail.

Chelsea claims that she was suffering from pain due to the cuffs and asked for relief several times from one of the officers. The newspaper says that after the arresting officer "repeatedly ignored her cries of pain," intimating that the officer intentionally tried to hurt her by twisting the middle part of the handcuffs, Chelsea cursed the officer saying:.

“You f***ing stupid b***h. You’re hurting me, you b***h.” 

This outburst led to the prosecutors charging her with "violently resisting arrest."

The presiding judge, Senior Magistrate Archibald Warner, scoffed at the charges pointing out that the woman did not become violent and cursed only after she was ignored when she complained of pain.

The prosecutors introduced no evidence on the resisting arrest charge.

Magistrate Warner then fined Chelsea $500 for the pot. You can read about Magistrate Warner in these articles: 

Bermuda's Kangaroo Courts Back in Action

Business As Usual In Bermuda: Cruise Passenger Arrested & Fined For Small Amount of Pot

Reefer Madness Continues: Bermuda Shakes Down Another Cruise Pot Head

People ask me, why do you care if cruise stoners get fined?

The problem is that Bermuda has a strange sense of priorities. It delights in small time pot busts of vacationers with a cigarette or two in the cabin safe to be smoked for recreational use on the high seas, an issue the cruise line security should deal with. But rapes or violent shipboard crimes? Bermuda is indifferent to prosecuting rapists and criminals on Bermuda flagged ships.

Compare Bermuda's madness with the customs policy in Canada toward cruise ships. For a period of a year or so, customs officers in Halifax, Canada arrested four crew members and cruise passengers with child pornography on their computers. All of them served jail time. A good use of Canadian customs and judicial resources.

But in Bermuda, you'll never see a cruise rapist, pedophile or child porn pervert arrested by police or customs officers or sentenced by Magistrate Warner. There's no money to be made in arresting real criminals.

Photo Credit: Bermuda Sun

 

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"Dangerous Drugs?" Nassau Nabs Two More U.S. Cruise Passengers for Pot

The Bahamas Weekly reports that Nassau police officers - on a tip from cruise ship security personnel - arrested two U.S. passengers from Massachusetts. One was a 27 year-old woman and the other was a 28 year-old woman.

Around 9:30 AM on Friday April 25, 2014, police officers from the "Tourism Police Unit (TPU)" went onboard an unidentified cruise ship docked at the Prince George Dock and arrested the two passengers "who had a quantity of marijuana in their possession."

Nassau BahamasThe newspaper said that the cruise passengers were arrested for possession of "dangerous drugs." 

At a time when cruise passengers are afraid to go ashore into Nassau because of crime and the harassment of tourists by locals hawking drugs at the docks and in the straw market, the Bahamas tourism police are raiding the cruise ships and arresting guests who have no intention of bringing pot ashore?

We have talked about this foolishness before:

Reefer Madness: Bahamas Magistrate Taunts & Shakes Down Royal Caribbean Potheads.

April 30 2014 Update: The Bahamas Weekly reports that yesterday "A 58 year old man of Spring Hill, Florida is in custody after he was arrested for possession of dangerous drugs on Tuesday 29th April 2014.

According to reports, around 3:30 pm, Officers from the Tourism Police Unit (TPU) acting on information, went onboard a Cruise ship docked at the Prince George Wharf, where they arrested the man who had a quantity of marijuana in his possession. The man will appear in later today to be formally charged."

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / TampAGS, for AGS Media

Reefer Madness: Bahamas Magistrate Taunts & Shakes Down Royal Caribbean Potheads

The Nassau Tribune reports on a criminal hearing last weekend in the Bahamas after five cruise ship passengers from two different ship were arrested for possessing small amounts of marijuana.  The five passengers each had between one and five grams of pot. I'm told that's enough pot for a couple of joints.

A 28 year old from Leesburg, Florida was apprehended by the Chief of Security on the Royal Caribbean Enchantment of the Seas with 1 gram of pot. The ship's security invited the Bahamian police onto the Enchantment and handed the joint and the passenger over. The Magistrate filed him Pot Bahamas$500 and threatened that if he didn't pay the fine immediately he would throw him in jail, adding “and unlike US prisons, our prisons are not as hospitable.” 

A 27 year old man from Sarasota, Florida was arrested after he bought 2 grams of pot ashore in downtown Nassau. He arrived in Nassau on the Royal Caribbean Adventure of the Seas. The Magistrate fined him $500 as well, telling him "some countries in Asia can carry a punishment as severe as death."

A 60 year old woman on the Enchantment of the Seas was arrested with 5 grams of pot. The magistrate filed her $800, stating (and I quote): "It is a shock that individuals at this age would be engaging in such illegal activities.” 

A 61 year old man from Fort Meyers on an unspecified cruise ships was arrested after the cruise ship turned him over to the Bahamian police with 5 grams of pot. He received a $800 fine.

The last pothead was a 37 year old who bought 2 grams for $50 at the straw market. The stoner told the judge “I was walking around the straw market. I was drinking. I had like two rums that morning . . " The judge was unimpressed and threatened him with a three month jail sentence if he didn't pay $500 right away.  

It never ceases to amaze me that cruise lines like Royal Caribbean make hundreds of millions of dollars pushing booze on their ships to the point that the passenger are knee-walking-and-puking drunk, but a cruise ship security officer will collar a guest for a single joint and turn them over to the police. 

The double standard also applies to the Bahamas where pot dealers canvas the port and sell pot up and down Bay Street and in and around every bar in town. One of the chief complaints we hear from Crime Nassau Bahamascruise passengers sailing to Nassau is that they are constantly harassed by the local citizens to buy pot the second they step off the cruise ship and walk into town.  

The Bahamas has one of the highest crime rates in the world. It lets child predators go free, it has a deplorable record solving crimes on Bahamian-flagged cruise ships, and it is clueless when it comes to solving murders and violent crimes against tourists

Nabbing cruise tourists with a joint or two, and teaming up with the cruise lines to pull passengers off the ship with small amounts of pot while Bahamians are openly selling the stuff at the straw market, are duplicitous revenue collecting exercises.

The Bahamas is one gunshot away from losing the cruise lines. It needs to concentrate its limited resources on protecting its citizens and visitors from armed bad guys and not hassle the tourists who bring money into its impoverished country. 

 

Photo Credit: Vibe (top); Nassau Tribune April 9 2014 newspaper - Tribune.

Honduran Crew Members Busted for Smuggling 100 Pounds of Cocaine on Royal Caribbean Owned Cruise Ship

Pullmantur EmpressA newspaper in Brazil reports that the police arrested crew members on a cruise ship who were smuggling 100 pounds of cocaine.

The Globo newspaper identified the cruise ship as the M/S Empress, owned by Royal Caribbean and operated by the Royal Caribbean brand Pullmantur.  

The police officers arrested Honduran crew members after finding 333 bags of cocaine weighing 100 pounds. The drugs were found in the crew members' cabin in several bags hidden in coffee pouches. 

The drugs were intended to be delivered to Europe. 

Royal Caribbean said that it has a "zero tolerance" policy regarding illegal drugs on its ships.

The cruise ship was previously operated by Royal Caribbean International as the Nordic Empress and Empress of the Seas.

Photo Credit: Top - Reuters / Bottom - Wikipedia (Borodun)

Pullmantur Empress Cruise Ship

Cocaine & Heroin Cruise Ship Bust: Bahamas Celebration Crew Member Arrested For Smuggling Drugs

Newspapers in Palm Beach Country are reporting that a 30-year-old crew member is facing drug charges after U.S. Customs and Border Protection authorities say he smuggled cocaine and heroin from the Bahamas on the Bahamas Celebration cruise ship.

The Bahamas Celebration is operated by the Celebration Cruise Line and cruises between the Port of Palm Beach and Freeport, Bahamas.

A crew member, identified as Adrian Bradley Trench, was arrested last Thursday on charges of Bahamas Celebration Cruise Shipimporting more than 500 grams of cocaine and more than 100 grams of heroin. Crew member Trench had left the cruise ship after it arrived at the Port of Palm Beach from Freeport. When federal immigration officers asked Trench for his immigration forms, the crew member reportedly tried to run back to the cruise ship.

The officers apprehended him and noticed two packages wrapped around Trench’s calves, containing 1,043 grams of cocaine (about 2.25 pounds) and 674 grams of heroin (about 1.5 pounds). 

Drug smuggling from the Bahamas is not uncommon. Last Spring, we reported on two incidents where a crew member and a passenger were arrested for smuggling large quantities of cocaine from the Bahamas into the same port. Read Another Drug Bust on the Bahamas Celebration.

 

Photo Credit: thebahamasweekly.com

Transatlantic Coke Bust: Spanish Prosecutors Seek 7 Year Prison Sentences For Two MSC Magnifica Crew Members

In a story we reported earlier this year, two Filipino crew members were busted smuggling cocaine aboard the MSC Magnifica in April.

The MSC cruise ship arrived at the port  of La Coruña on April 11th and the two crew members were arrested after they were caught with 10 kilos of cocaine taped to their bodies.

Today I received a newspaper clipping from a reader of Cruise Law News Next, bring me up to date regarding the case. The two men will be tried in the Provincial Court next week as "perpetrators MSC Cruise Ship Drug Bustof a crime against public health." The prosecutors will be asking the Court for 7 year jail sentences for the two men. You can see the on line article here too.

It was initially reported that the MSC crew members had smuggled 15 kilos.

Drug smuggling on cruise ships occurs more than the cruise lines want you to know, including MSC. 

Last month, a judge in Italy sentenced three 3 people who were involved in smuggling cocaine on an Italian flagged cruise ship to ten year individual sentences and a fine each of 60,000 Euros for importing ten kilos of cocaine from South America on the cruise ship Armonia operated by MSC.

In March, two Argentinian cruise passengers on an unidentified MSC cruise ship from Brazil which arrived in Lisbon, Portugal from Brazil were arrested for possession / smuggling of seven kilograms of cocaine wrapped in packages that the men were carrying in two backpacks. 

MSC passengers were convicted of attempting to bring 35 kilos of cocaine from the MSC Orchestra when it arrived in Dover from Brazil.

The MSC Poesia was the scene here in South Florida of a drug bust when U.S. federal and local agents with K-9 dogs raided the cruise ship looking to arrest passengers who were attending a musical Jam Cruise. The raid resulted in the arrest of passengers and the seizure of pot, mushrooms, hash oil, LSD, Ecstasy, and prescription drugs as well as unspecified drug paraphernalia. No high times on the high seas for these cruisers.

Coke on the High Seas: Prison Sentences for Smuggling Cocaine on MSC Armonia

Cruise Center reports news from Italy that a judge in Italy sentenced three 3 people who were involved in smuggling cocaine on an Italian flagged cruise ship to ten year individual sentences and a fine each of 60,000 Euros for importing ten kilos of cocaine from South America on the cruise ship Armonia operated by MSC.

The Judge sentenced Bosnians Mihalovič Zoran Jaksic, Mladen Miljanic, and Braim Sirani. The judges accepted the requests made by the public prosecutor Angela Masiello, who fought for the highest sentence.

MSC ArmoniaImplicated in the cruise ship smuggling operation were four other people, including a MSC crew member.

The cruise ship departed from Punta dell'Este in Uruguay and arrived at the port of Venice. 

After arriving in Venice, the 28-year old crew member Dejan Ivanovic (who was also convicted), was directed to deliver the cocaine in a Hotel in Venice. The crew member implicated the cruise ship's cook, who landed in Buenos Aires due to illness, to take the drugs to Venice in exchange for 10,000 Euros.

We have reported on drug busts on MSC cruise ships before:

Cocaine Drug Bust on MSC Magnifica Cruise Ship

Drug Bust Nabs Two MSC Cruise Passengers

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia (Ivan T.)

Busted in Belize: Shaking Down the Cruise Ship Tourists

Belize - Cruise Ship - Pot - MarijuanaDr. Ross Klein's Cruise Junkie and Local News Station 5 in Belize are reporting on the arrest of two cruise passengers who went ashore in Belize last week. Both young men were caught with small amounts of pot in Belize's "tourism village" and were arrested. 

As I have mentioned before in a prior article, Reefer Madness: Cruise Passengers Busted in Belize During Cruises, don't think that the police in Belize will look the other way if you are a cruise passenger and want to buy pot ashore in Belize.

Even though the drug dealers will try and sell you pot and whatever else you want as soon as you step off of the cruise ship, Belize has a reputation of arresting, fining and/or jailing tourists for possession of small amounts of  the evil weed.  

You can get arrested for pot, even though you just bought the weed ashore. It's less than clear whether this is part of an undercover drug sting or just corrupt cops working with the dealers.   

The arrests last week involve two cruise ship passengers who arrived in Belize. One passenger was from Dayton, Tennessee and the other was from Saint Martin. 

The arrests occurred less than an hour before the last tender was to sail back to the passengers' cruise ship. One passenger with 4.7 grams of marijuana was fined $400. The other passenger had 8 ounces was fined $800. Both men paid their fine and rushed off to their waiting tender to make it back to the ship.

That's speedy "justice" in Belize. $1,200 in fines collected in about 45 minutes.

There are lots of articles online about cruise passengers arrested in Belize for "acting suspiciously at the tourism village."  That could mean whatever the arresting police officer wants it to mean. 

Cruise passengers are easy marks. No one is going to argue due process or other legal mumbo-jumbo while there is no bail for cruise passengers in Belize. It's easier to pay the fine, get back on the ship, and drink a margarita than to go to jail.    

Cocaine Drug Bust on MSC Magnifica Cruise Ship

Crew Center reports that the Spanish police arrested two crew members from the cruise ship MSC Magnífica, which docked recently in La Coruña, Spain on drug trafficking charges.

The crew members were caught with 15 kilos of cocaine on the cruise ship.

Another Drug Bust on the Bahamas Celebration

Bahamas Celebration Cruise Ship Drug BustThe Sun Sentinel newspaper reports that U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) agents arrested a crew member of the Bahamas Celebration cruise ship after he tried to smuggle two bricks of cocaine (a kilo) into the Riviera Beach Port. 

Crew member Dannys Daniel Sjogreen-Gutierrez was taken into custody by CBP agents earlier this week after he disembarked from the Bahamas Celebration cruise ship with the drugs.

The arrested crew member later delivered a fake brick of cocaine to the recipient in the alleged drug deal, Everett Marvin Patton, who was also arrested in the bust operation. 

A month ago a cruise ship passenger was arrested for smuggling cocaine into the same port. 

Drug running from the Bahamas to South Florida via cruise ships is a common occurrence. 

Reefer Madness - $1,000 or 100 Days in Jail - Bermuda Continues to Shake Down Cruise Passengers with Pot

Bermuda Customs Cruise Ship DrugsA newspaper in Bermuda reports today on two U.S. cruise ship passengers who were fined $1,000 after a small amount of pot was found in their cabins on a cruise ship in port.

In separate cases, two cruise passengers, each aged 53, were arrested after authorities in Bermuda boarded the Norwegian Dawn yesterday and conducted warrant-less searches of cabins on the cruise ship.

One man had 13 grams of cannabis in his cabin and the other had five grams.  

The Magistrate fined each man $1,000 or 100 days in jail.  

Arresting U.S. cruise passengers with small amounts of pot left in the cruise ship cabins is big business in Bermuda. NCL will sell you an all-you-can-drink alcohol package for $49 a day and you can get smashed on the cruise ship and then go to a bar ashore in Bermuda and get hammered and stagger back to the ship. No one cares.

But Bermuda loves to send sniffer dogs onto visiting cruise ships to search empty cabins for a joint or two without a warrant or probable cause. Why? Its easy money.

U.S. passengers with a few joints will Cruise Ship Reefer Madnessalways chose to fork over $1,000 to $3,000 rather than spend a few months in jail in the middle of the Atlantic waiting to fight the charges.

This is a ridiculous topic we have talked about often:

Surprise. Surprise. Surprise. More Bermuda Cruise Ship Reefer Madness   

Bermuda's Kangaroo Courts Back in Action

More Reefer Madness - Bermuda's Screwed Up Sense of Priorities

 

 

Bahamas Celebration Cruise Passenger Busted for Cocaine

Bahamas Celebration Cocaine Bust Cruise PassengerA newspaper in Palm Beach is reporting that a cruise ship passenger was arrested at the Port of Palm Beach after Customs and Border officials found cocaine in her luggage.

The news paper identified Mechelle Tondeleah Clarke as the passenger who sailed on the Bahamas Celebration cruise ship from the Bahamas to the port located in Riviera Beach. After arriving April 20th, Ms. Clarke handed over her suitcase to U.S. Customs and Border Protection for inspection.The officials found a package of cocaine inside a  “secret compartment” in the luggage. The package of cocaine weighed approximately 2.25 kilograms.

Clarke allegedly told authorities that she was given the package by someone in the Bahamas in exchange for between $2,000 and $3,000 for transporting the package to an address in West Palm Beach.

Smuggling cocaine on cruise ships is not uncommon.  To read other stories like this, click on "Drugs" under the "Topics" section to the lower left.

 

Photo Credit: thebahamasweekly.com

Cruise Ship Cocaine Smuggler Lucky to be Alive

Cruise ship Cocaine SmugglingDuring a six day cruise out of Miami, Norman Mosch swallowed 87 pellets of cocaine during a stopover in Jamaica back in December of 2012.

The Sun Sentinel writes that cruise passenger Mosch swallowed 2 pounds and 2 ounces of cocaine-filled pellets after he had been recruited to smuggle the drugs back to Miami. Not surprisingly, he felt ill and spent the remainder of the cruise in his cabin.

When Mosch returned to South Florida at the end of the cruise, he spent the next several days in agony on the floor in a garage at the house of his "friend" who had involved him in the cruise drug deal.

Mosch couldn't pass the pellets although he took lots of laxatives. One of the pellets exploded and Mosch ended up in an emergency room where he underwent surgery to remove over 80 remaining pellets. He unconscious for over a month. When he came out of the coma he was charged with criminal conspiracy to import the cocaine 

The article explains that Mosch is a Vietnam Vet who has gone through some hard times. He's heading for a jail term but he's lucky to be alive.

Celebrity Cruises Passenger Sentenced to 12 Years for Attempted Cocaine Smuggling into Bermuda

The Royal Gazette reports that a 52 year old U.S. cruise ship passenger was sentenced to prison for 12 years for attempting to smuggle cocaine into Bermuda. 

Jane Carmichael, from Hazelhurst, Georgia, was arrested on the Celebrity Summit when the Bermuda police accompanied by sniffer dogs came aboard the cruise ship in May of last year. 

Ms. Carmichael said that a Celebrity Cruises crew member asked her to deliver the cocaine to a bar which the newspaper did not identify. She was caught on the ship with four packages strapped to Celebrity Cruises Summit Cruise Ship Drug Busther body. The packages contained 3,452 grams of cocaine.

Ms. Carmichael had compelling circumstances for a shorter sentence.

She reportedly had been sexually abused as a child and she spiraled into depression following the death of a grandson. Her mother died a year before the cruise and she was also struggling financially after losing her job. She made several attempts to commit suicide.

Her defense lawyer argued that Ms. Carmichael had led a tragic life and had been “a victim of manipulation.”

We first wrote about this case a year ago. At that time a second passenger had been arrested, and a Celebrity crew member had been taken into custody as well. It sounds like only the drug mule and no crew members were prosecuted.

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Yankeesman312

Drug Bust Nabs Two MSC Cruise Passengers

MSC Cruise Ship - CocaineThe Crew Center website reports that two cruise which arrived in Lisbon, Portugal from Brazil earlier this week were arrested for possession / smuggling of seven kilograms of cocaine.

Two two passengers were Argentinean and had boarded an unidentified MSC cruise ship in Santos, Brazil. They arrived in Lisbon after a transatlantic cruise on a cruise ship to Lisbon in possession of the drugs.

The arrests took place in the cruise terminal of Santa Apolonia, as the two men disembarked the cruise ship into the Portuguese capital.  The men were around 40 years old. The cocaine was reportedly contained in wrapped packages that the men were carrying in two backpacks. 

 

Photo Credit: Crew Center 

Allure of the Seas Crew Members Busted for Cocaine: Alleged Drug Smugglers Included Former and Present Royal Caribbean Cruise Employees

The Sun Sentinel newspaper in Fort Lauderdale reports that two Royal Caribbean arrested in Fort Lauderdale on Sunday as they were disembarking from the Allure of the Seas cruise ship.

The crew members, both age  25, were identified as Winston Hyman and Jimmel Thom (photo below). The cruise ship had returned to Port Everglades from a cruise to Labadee, Haiti, Jamaica and Mexico.

A sniffer dog alerted to a backpack the men had been carrying. More than one kilo of cocaine was discovered inside.

Jimmel Thom - Allure of the SeasOne of the men stated that they were handed backpack from a man in Falmouth, Jamaica.  This man reportedly had previously worked aboard the Allure of the Seas.  One of the crew members, Thom, had worked with this former crew member to smuggle narcotics on and off the Allure before.  He was reportedly paid $2,000 upfront and was then to receive $1,000 once he delivered the cocaine in Fort Lauderdale. 

We have reported on drug smuggling on Royal Caribbean cruise ships before. It's hardly a rare event; you can read the accounts of crew member drug smuggling below:

Another Royal Caribbean Crew Member Busted for Drug Smuggling (Explorer of the Seas)

Million Dollar Drug Bust on Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship in Montego Bay (Grandeur of the Seas)

Three Crew Drug Arrests (Enchantment of the Seas)

High Times on the High Seas - Cruise Industry Struggles with "Reefer Madness (Royal Caribbean crew members smuggling drugs into Bermuda)

The Allure of the Seas was also the cruise ships where a travel agent was arrested for dealing large amounts of drugs during a cruise. He was caught with 142 ecstasy pills, 3 grams of methamphetamine, ketamine and $51,000 cash. 

 

Photo credit: Broward County Sheriff's Office via Sun Sentinel

Drugs & Wild Sex on the Kid Friendly Disney Magic?

Disney Cruise Ship - Crew - Cocaine - SexPeople Magazine in the U.K. is publishing photographs of what it is describing as crew members snorting cocaine in their cabins. The photographs are part of an investigation into drug use aboard the Disney Magic cruise ship after a "whistleblower" reported widespread us of coke by crew members. People Magazine writes:

"Up on deck families were frolicking with Mickey Mouse on a Disney sunshine cruise.

But down below members of their crew were enjoy themselves in a different way – snorting white ­powder in their cabins.

Entertainers who delight young kiddies and their parents, ­restaurant waiters and show ­dancers hoovered up what ­appeared to be cocaine.

And they even used their Disney staff ID cards to chop up lines."  

A Disney crew member also claimed that "wild parties and casual sex were the norm" for the Disney Magic crew. According to the crew-member-turned-informant:

“It’s all very family-friendly. On deck, you have people in Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck outfits Disney Cruise Ship - Drugs - Sexperforming tricks. But downstairs, staff are sniffing coke. So many people are doing it, it’s an open secret. People even do it during their shift. Staff work very long hours and it’s their only release.

We’d go to whorehouses when we were docked.

Or if we were at sea we would have wild parties in the ­cabins. You’d just lock the door and a few people would be sniffing ­almost straight away. Crew would all be sleeping with each other too. Girls never said no when they were high – it was wild."

People Magazine also discussed the  highly controversial case of Disney youth counselor Rebecca Coriam who vanished from the Disney Wonder under mysterious circumstances. Disney is staying mum about what really happened to young Ms. Coriam.  The "investigation" by a single policeman in the Bahamas, where Disney registered its cruise ships to avoid taxes and strict safety regulations of the U.K. and U.S., is a joke.

The Mirror magazine in the U.K. picked up on the cocaine / sex story and published several additional photographs of crew members snorting blow which you can see here.

Disney Cruise Ship - Drugs - Snow White Snorting Coke?Disney says that it has a strict anti-drug program and it runs sniffer dogs through the crew quarters.

Some readers and many cruise fans may write the story off as sensationalistic.  But my thought is that it's a real insight into the hard partying life of the crew who cruise passengers entrust with their children.

Are Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Snow White high while entertaining your kids?

It's something that cruise passengers don't want to think about. 

 

 

Photo / art credit:

Top, middle: People Magazine U.K. / Mirror U.K. 

Bottom:  Cheezburger

Reefer Madness Continues: Bermuda Shakes Down Another Cruise Pot Head

Bermuda's never ending war on cruise passengers continues with the Royal Gazette newspaper reporting today that "Tearful Cruise Passenger Fined for Drugs."

The newspaper reports that NCL cruise passenger Mr. Cruz (I'm not kidding)  broke into tears today as he was charged with cannabis possession.

The case involves the familiar scheme where the Bermuda customs officials welcome the cruise passenger into their country to shop, eat and drink and then send sniffer dogs on the cruise ship to conduct random and warrant-less searches of the passengers' cabins. 

Cruise Ship Pot - BermudaThe dogs sniffed out some reefer, 12 grams, from 26 year old Cruz' cabin on the Norwegian Star.

The sentencing judge was, as usual, Senior Magistrate Archibald Warner, whose title should be Senior Collector of Revenue. 

Cruz pleaded for mercy: “I’m sorry. I know I was not supposed to do it but my mom has stage four cancer and my dad just got an injury to his eye.”

Senior Magistrate Archibald Warner could care less and whacked him $800, without any expressions of condolences to Cruz's sick family. 

The beat in Bermuda goes on .  .  . 

 

For other reefer madness stories, read:

More Reefer Madness - Bermuda's Screwed Up Sense of Priorities

Surprise. Surprise. Surprise. More Bermuda Cruise Ship Reefer Madness

 

May 18, 2012 Update:  The Royal Gazette news paper in Bermuda picks up on our blogs about busting passengers for small amounts of pot.

May 25, 2012 Update:  "Driving Tourists Away" - interesting letters to the editor in Bermuda about cruise ship pot. 

Business As Usual In Bermuda: Cruise Passenger Arrested & Fined For Small Amount of Pot

Newspapers in Bermuda are reporting on what is routine practice in Bermuda when a cruise ship arrives from the U.S.  Customs officer take a sniffer dog aboard and find a few joints of pot in a passenger's cabin.

Today a 30 year old passenger sailing aboard the Norwegian Dawn cruise ship pleaded guilty to two charges involving the possession of 7.16 grams of pot and 0.88 grams of ecstasy.

Senior Magistrate Archibald Warner presided over the case, as usual. The prosecutors told the magistrate that around 1:25 PM on Sunday May 13th, a Bermuda Customs canine in a sniffer dog team Cruise Ship Drug Bust - Bermuda - Archibald Warnerhad alerted to illegal drugs in cabin 8597 on board the Norwegian Dawn. The cabin, unoccupied at the time, was entered and searched. 

Later that day, on his return to the ship, the Bermuda officials arrested the passenger and took him to the police station. Today, he told the magistrate that the drugs were  “For my personal use to party while I was on the cruise.”  The Magistrate fined him $800 on the charge of possessing the pot and another $800 for possessing the powder. 

We have written over a dozen articles like this. Just the other week, I wrote this one - Surprise. Surprise. Surprise. More Bermuda Cruise Ship Reefer Madness.

Magistrate Warner has fined every cruise passenger who has stood before him with a little reefer found on the cruise ship. No need for probable cause or a search warrant.  American potheads are easy money.

Very strange revenue collection business going on in Bermuda and a real double standard as well. 

Yesterday I posted the Inside Edition video showing cruise passengers chugging beer, downing shots, showing their booty and passing out at the ship bar.  No cruise or port officials could care less. But expect the officials in Bermuda to shake you down for a few thousand dollars if you stash some reefer in your cabin to get high on the high seas.

May 16, 2012 Update: The South Florida Business Journal mentions our blog in an article Alcohol vs. Drugs on Cruise Ships

 

Photo Credit:  Royal Gazette

Coke Bust on Celebrity Sumitt Cruise Ship

The Bermuda Sun newspaper reports that Bermuda police officers arrested a 53 year old cruise passenger who tried to smuggle cocaine into Bermuda.

The newspaper states that the American cruise tourist allegedly strapped $369,000 worth of cocaine to her body and sailed to Bermuda on board the Celebrity Summit cruise ship.

The passenger is reportedly from Georgia.  Bermuda charged her with possession of cocaine with intent Celebrity Summit Cruise Ship - Drug Bustto supply on May 3rd.

After the Bermuda police were tipped that there was drugs in her cabin, they boarded the cruise ship and searched  her cabin.  She then allegedly admitted having the drugs strapped to her body. Officers then found four off-white packages inside a girdle. 

Cruise Critic has additional information, apparently based on information from Celebrity Cruises. It reports that "two female passengers and a Celebrity Summit stateroom attendant were arrested on drug charges on May 3 while the ship was docked in King's Wharf, Bermuda . . . law enforcement officers entered the passengers' cabin and found three kilograms of cocaine. At that time, the passengers implicated a stateroom attendant from Jamaica, who was also taken into custody."

Surprise. Surprise. Surprise. More Bermuda Cruise Ship Reefer Madness

If you are a stoner who can't help stashing a couple joints of ganja in your socks to smoke sailing from New York to Bermuda, chances are you have a good chance of meeting Senior Magistrate Archibald Warner. 

You see, Magistrate Warner is a criminal judge in Bermuda's capital of Hamilton who helps the customs officers raise revenue for the little island in the middle of the Atlantic by fining cruise passengers who have small amounts of marijuana in their cabins on the cruise ships.  

The game goes like this.  Carnival and Royal Caribbean cruise ships arrive in port.  The Bermuda customs officers sit back, smile and greet all of the cruise tourists.  Once the cruise ships have emptied out and the passengers are ashore to sight-see and drink, the customs officer take their sniffer dogs Bermuda Cruise Ship Pot Arrestsand conduct random searches of passenger cabins.

No need for a search warrant. No need for something we call "probable cause" in the U.S.  Once the dogs have sniffed out a few cigarettes of the evil weed, the customs officers wait for the passengers to return with their trinkets and souvenirs. Surprise. Surprise. Surprise.

That's when Magistrate Warner steps in.  He has never seen a cruise passenger with a good excuse. I'm sorry your honor, I had no intention of bringing the pot ashore to your beautiful country.  $1,000 or 30 days in jail!  It's for medical use, I have a note from my doctor, I have cancer.  Nonsense, $3,000 or 60 days in the slammer!      

The penalty for having pot in your cruise cabin in port ranges for $500 to $3,000 (for less than 20 grams), a stern lecture by Magistrate Warner, and your photo appearing in Bermuda's Royal Gazette newspaper. Make certain that you cruise with cash or have a balance of a few grand in your ATM because Magistrate Warner will otherwise be happy to invite you to stay in a jail on the rocky island for 30-60 days in lieu of immediate payment.  

The latest cruise passenger to fall into the trap was a 43 year old passenger from New York last week. The newspaper article in Bermuda reports that the sniffer dogs were at work at 9:37 in the morning and found pot and a pipe in a safe in the cruise passenger's cabin on the Norwegian Star.  After a night in jail, the passenger was fined $2,000 for the pot and pot resin and $2,000 for the pipe.  Again, no search warrant, no probable cause, and pot-in-a-safe-on-the-ship scenario.  

The cruise passenger was contrite: “It’s embarrassing and I apologise to the court, the government, the police, customs and the ship as well."  $4,000 or off with your head! 

People ask me, why do you care if cruise stoners get fined, are you a pothead too?  I'm happy to respond. No I don't toke,  Never have.  A nice scotch at the end of a long day is my vice.

The problem is that Bermuda has a strange sense of priorities. It delights in small time pot busts of vacationers with a cigarette or two in the cabin safe to be smoked for recreational use on the high seas.  But rapes or violent shipboard crimes?  Bermuda is indifferent to prosecuting rapists and criminals on Bermuda flagged ships.   

Compare Bermuda's madness with the customs policy in Canada toward cruise ships.  For a period of a year or so, customs officers in Halifax, Canada arrested four crewmembers and cruise passengers with child pornography on their computers.  All of then served jail time.  A good use of Canadian customs and judicial resources.

But in Bermuda, you'll never see a cruise rapist, pedophile or child porn pervert arrested by the customs personnel or sentenced by Magistrate Warner.  There's no money to be made in arresting real criminals.

More Reefer Madness - Bermuda's Screwed Up Sense of Priorities

Explorer of the Seas - Drug BustThe Royal Gazette newspaper in Bermuda reports today on what has become a routine activity when a U.S. based cruise ships arrives in port - Bermuda Customs officials taking sniffer dogs aboard U.S. based cruise ships and arresting cruise passengers for a small quantity of drugs.

This week Bermuda Customs officers boarded the Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas and Carnival Pride cruise ships and conducted random searches of passenger cabins before arresting two passengers from New York.  The big bust? One passenger had just 1.5 grams of pot and 0.7 grams of cocaine.  Can you even get high on 1.5 grams of reefer? 

The other passenger had 13 grams of pot.

One contrite busted passenger told Senior Magistrate Judge Archibald Warner "I didn’t have any intention selling it or smoking it on your Island.” The Magistrate was unimpressed and fined the twp passengers a total of $2,400. 

Busting American passengers for small amounts of drugs is big, big business in Bermuda.  We have written about it time after time.  You can read our articles about the crooked way of Bermuda and minor drug busts below: 

Here We Go Again - Bermuda Shakes Down Another Cruise Ship Pot Head

Bermuda Shakes Down Another Cruise Ship Pot Head

Bermuda Customs, Cruise Ship Cabins & Illegal Searches = Easy U.S. Money $$$

Bermuda Continues Cruise Ship Drug Busts

Are You a Stoner? Don't Cruise to Bermuda!

Busted in Bermuda - Customs Officials Extort Money From Cruise Passengers By Unconstitutional Drug Searches

Magistrate Warner chastised prosecutors last year for conducting searches of passengers cabins without probable cause or a search warrant. He raised the issue whether cruise ship pot busts are Bermuda Pot - Cruise Shipslegal, "described it as “vexing” and “embarrassing” that tourists are charged for having small quantities of cannabis."

The Magistrate made these comments as he sentenced a 28 year old crewmember from Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas a 12-month conditional discharge for possessing 5g of pot.

But it looks like Magistrate Warner is now part of the official machinery in Bermuda for processing small time pot heads to increase customs revenues for the island. 

Meanwhile the Captain of the Bermuda-flagged cruise ship, the Star Princess, operated by Bermuda incorporated Princess Cruises, remains free to sail the world notwithstanding sailing by three fishermen 100 miles off the coast of Panama.  The captain's I-didn't-know defense stinks.  2 young men are dead and their bodies are missing at sea.

Too bad that Bermuda focuses its limited resources on cruise ship passengers who use small time recreational drugs, rather than on Bermuda incorporated cruise lines which engage in intentional dereliction of duty leading to death of young men on the high seas.

More Cruise Ship Reefer Madness: St. Kitts Port Police Seize 2 Joints

In the never ending war on drugs, the SKNVibes newspaper in St. Kitts reports that its the port police seized 2 grams of pot in a cabin on the Celebrity Silhouette cruise ship after the pot had been discovered by ship security.  The local police brought on a sniffer dog.  Here's the article:

"A quantity of drugs were recently removed from a cruise ship after being discovered by security personnel and handed over to the local police.

Information reaching SKNVibes indicates that sometime after 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday (Apr. 4) police Cruise Ship Pot - Reefer Madnesswere informed by the Security Manager of St. Christopher Air and Sea Port Authority, Raymond Cotton, that approximately two grams of what was suspected to be cannabis sativa were found aboard the M.V Celebrity Silhouette while docked at Port Zante.

Police arrived at Port Zante sometime after 8:30 a.m., a search was conducted and the drugs were found inside a cabin.

A dog from the Custom Canine Division was used to conduct further searches in the area where the cannabis was found but no more of the illegal drugs were located.  

No one was arrested."

For other ridiculous stories about cruise ships, pot and high times on the high seas, click on "Drugs" under "Topics" to the left.

 

Credit:  Hat tip to Professor Ross Klein who first reported on this story. 

Another Drug Bust on the P & O Aurora - This Time 30 Kilos!

Cocaine Drug Bust - Aurora Cruise Ship Newspapers in Australia are reporting that a British cruise passenger aboard the P & O Aurora cruise ship was arrested for trying to smuggle 30 kilos of cocaine into Australia.  

The British citizen is 59 years old and was busted by Australian customs officers last Friday at the Overseas Passenger Terminal in Sydney.  The customs officers used a sniffer dog.  The accounts indicate that the passenger was hiding several packages inside a wet suit which he was wearing under his clothes.  Another 25 packages of coke were concealed in three suitcases in his cabin.

Those of you who read Cruise Law News will remember that we reported on another major drug bust on the Aurora cruise ship when U.S. officials arrested an Australian man and two New Zealanders after it docked in San Francisco on January 25th.  The three passengers were smuggling 13 kilos of cocaine.

That means that In the course of one month, passengers were busted for smuggling 43 kilos (around 95 lbs) on this one ship.  The coke which must be worth up to $10,000,000 on the street.

Drug smuggling is a major problem on cruise ships.  Last year a leading maritime source, Lloyd's List, reported on the problem of drug smuggling on cruise ships.  In an article entitled "Drug Crimes Linked to Cruiseships Soar 52%," Lloyd's List stated: 

Cruise Ship Cocaine"UK based Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) told Lloyd’s List there had also been a sharp increase in drug smuggling on cruise ships, which prompted it to issue a specific alert to cruise lines. SOCA said that despite its alert, cruise operators are down playing the problem and continue to rely on existing security measures to deal with the problem.  The upsurge appears to be linked to professional drug gangs increasingly targeting cruise vessels.  According to the law enforcement agencies, drug gangs have turned to cruise ships because drug enforcement agencies have worked hard to stifle smuggling routes using yachts, fishing boats, cargo vessels and aircraft.  The gangs now see cruise ships as alternative vehicles for carrying drugs."

Major Cruise Drug Bust in San Francisco

The San Francisco Weekly Blog reported today that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) busted three cruise ship passengers in San Francisco with nearly 13 kilos of cocaine last month.

The CBP and local law-enforcement officials found two separate discoveries of a large amount of cocaine on a cruise ship at Pier 35 on January 25th after the ship arrived from Curacao, Columbia. 

Although the CBP refused to release the name of the cruise ship, federal agents released the names of the three cruise passengers arrested: Ahmed Rachid, an Australian national with over 7 kilos of cocaine in his cabin, and Tony Wilkinson and Kirstie Harris, New Zealand citizens, with over 5 kilos of coke.

It is less than clear whether this involved two seperate smuggling operations or whether the three were engaged in one drug smuggling attempt.  

The SF Weekly figured out that cruise the ship docked at Pier 35 on January 25th sailing out of Curacao was the Aurora, operated by Carnival subsidiary P & O Cruises.

The news of this drug bust came on the same day that two U.S. cruise passengers were sentenced to 6 years in jail for trying to smuggle pot into Bermuda.
 

Carnival Cruise Passengers Sentenced to Six Years in Jail for Conspiracy to Smuggle Pot into Bermuda

Bermuda Judge Carlisle GreavesThe Royal Gazette newspaper reports that a judge in Bermuda sentenced two U.S. cruise passengers to six years in jail each after trying to smuggle pot into Bermuda.

Bermuda Judge Carlisle Greaves sentenced the two female Carnival cruise passengers from Georgia, Alloah Releford, age 24, and Latoya Powell, age 27, for attempting to  smuggle in 2.7kg of cannabis resin into the country. 

The two women had sailed to Bermuda aboard the Carnival Fantasy cruise ship last year. 

The defense lawyers for the women argued for leniency, pointing out that Ms.Releford grew up as a child with both of her parents in jail.  Her mother died from lupus after being released from prison, leaving her to care for younger siblings as well as her own young children.  Ms. Powell was in debt $10,000 in medical bills for her daughter.

As is the case in Bermuda, the judge's sentencing and words for the two women were harsh:  

“Crybaby stories should not get them off easy.”

The women had been offered $5,000 each to smuggle the drugs to Bermuda.

Bermuda Drug BustWe have written many articles about Bermuda's harsh attitude toward U.S. passengers involved in using or importing drugs:

Are You a Stoner? Don't Cruise to Bermuda!

Busted in Bermuda - Customs Officials Extort Money From Cruise Passengers By Unconstitutional Drug Searches

Bermuda Shakes Down Another Cruise Ship Pot Head

Here We Go Again - Bermuda Shakes Down Another Cruise Ship Pot Head

 

Photo Credit (bottom):  Akil Simmons / Royal Gazette

Carnival Cruise Passengers Admit Plotting to Import $400,000 of Pot Into Bermuda

Newspapers in Bermuda are reporting today that two American women admitted plotting to import more than $400,000 of cannabis resin on a cruise ship into Bermuda.

In early October of this year, the Bermuda authorities arrested Alloah Jatan Releford, age 23, from Temple, Georgia, and Latoya Nicole Powell, age 27, from Marietta, Georgia. They had sailed from Charleston, South Carolina to Bermuda aboard Carnival's Fantasy cruise ship.

The drugs were found strapped to the women’s bodies.  The total weight was 2.7 kgs (6lbs), with a street value estimated to be over $400,000.

The cruise passengers will be sentenced next month.

Reefer Madness: Cruise Passengers Busted in Belize During Cruises

Reefer madness, Belize style.  So you're a young  cruise passenger wanting to get high while visiting some of the ports you visit.  Certainly no one in a third world place like Belize will hassle you, right?

Wrong.

Consider the following news reports from Belize regarding the consequences of cruise passengers choosing to either buy pot or bring a few joints ashore while cruising to Belize. 

Channel 5 Belize reports of a young passenger who was spotted by the local police with a marijuana cigarette.  She quickly swallowed it as the cops moved in on her.

Reefer Madness - BelizeWitnesses say the two male officers choked her and dragged her on the ground in front of a crowd that was infuriated by the way she was manhandled.  After a day and a half in lockdown, she was charged with resisting arrest, obstruction of justice and harm against a police officer.  She pleaded not guilty to three charges and told the court that she was in shock about how she was treated.

The local magistrate told her that because she is not a Belizean, bail was not an option. 

Eventually, two of the charges were dropped and the cruise passenger was found guilty of obstruction of justice and fined two hundred and fifty dollars to be paid immediately or face jail.  The cashier had already closed for the day and she had to stay the weekend in jail until Monday when she can pay her fine.

In another incident, 7 News Belize reports that a cruise passenger to Belize was arrested for possession of 2.9 grams of pot two days ago. 

The passenger is a 21 year old American college student from Florida. The incident occurred around 4:30 P.M. on Tuesday at the Tourism Village where many passengers visit in Belize. 

A local magistrate fined the passenger $1,000 or in default serve one year in prison. 

2.9 grams probably cost him $25.  The racket in countries like this (Bermuda being the worst) is that no one will contest the legality of the search or the penalty when threatened will a year in jail for such a small amount of pot.    

You can read another similar situation involving a 25 year old cruise passenger in Belize here.  The  passenger faced a seven month sentence for 8 grams of pot because he did not have the funds to pay the fine. 

These local news outlets do a remarkably detailed job reporting these minor offenses while always publishing a photo of the U.S. citizen busted for pot.  In none of these stories did the newspapers identify the name of the cruise ship where the passengers came from.  

Hunting stoned cruise passengers seems to be a sport in Belize

Celebrity Cruises Passengers Busted for Pot in St. Kitts

Celebrity Eclispe Cruise Ship - St. KittsA newspaper in St. Kitts reports today that on Wednesday two U.S. passengers who arrived in St. Kitts aboard a cruise ship were arrested by local police for possessing pot.

The U.S. couple from Los Angeles were sailing on the Celebrity Eclipse when ship security was alerted to the possibility of passengers having marijuana in their cabin.  Ship security searched the couple's cabin and found pot.  St. Kitts police then arrested the passengers and took them to jail ashore.

One of the passengers reportedly admitted to purchasing marijuana on a beach when the cruise ship docked in St. Maarten the day before.  A local judge fined the passenger EC $5,000, which he reportedly paid immediately after the hearing.

The couple were not permitted to return to the cruise ship.  They spent the night in St. Kitts, and left the island the following day.  A fine of EC (East Caribbean currency) turns out to be around
US $1,850. 

Lots of the island countries which cruise ships frequent levy substantial fines for cruise passengers possessing small amounts of pot for recreational use.

I wish that the cruise ship security and local port police would show such vigor in arresting passengers and crew engaged in violent crimes on cruise ships.

High Times on the High Seas: Judge Sentences Cruise Ship Drug Dealer to Jail

Steven Barry Krumholz - Sentenced - Cruise DrugsA judge in the U.S. Virgin Islands sentenced a passenger caught dealing drugs on Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas to twenty-one months in jail.

In February of this year, Steven Barry Krumholz, age 51, of West Hollywood, was arrested on board the Allure of the Seas during the "world's largest gay cruise."

Mr. Krumholz operated a travel agency. It seems that he sold much more than cruises.

Customs and Border agents in St. Thomas reportedly found around 142 ecstasy pills, 3 grams of methamphetamine, and ketamine in Mr. Krumholz's cabin. 

The sentencing judge stated that Mr. Krumholz used his cabin on the cruise ship "as if it was an apothecary for controlled substances."

$51,000 in cash was also located in the cabin, apparently from drugs sales to other passengers. 

We reported on the incident earlier this year.  Over 370 readers tweeted, liked or shared the story. You can read the article below:

Passenger Busted for Selling Drugs on Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas

21 months in jail for all of these drugs and money seems like a light sentence.  Compare that to a sentence in Bermuda of three months for having a few joints in a safe in a passenger's cabin.  Mr. Krumholz is lucky he was busted in St. Thomas rather than somewhere like Bermuda.

Drugs on the Love Boat - Princess Cruises Crewmember Busted with $700,000 of Cocaine

Grand Princess Cruise Ship - Cocaine Drug SmugglingThe Crown Court in Southampton, England imposed an eight year jail sentence against a Princess Cruises bar supervisor who attempted to smuggle 1.29 kilos of cocaine with a 100 per cent purity worth  £429,000, into the U.K. 

At the current U.K. - U.S exchange rate, this is about $700,000 worth of coke.

The Daily Echo newspaper in England reports that Princess Cruise crewmember Herman Spence, age 46, from Montego Bay, Jamaica, was detained by U.K. customs officers after he left the Grand Princess cruise ship when it docked in Southampton on July 16 of this year.

The U.K. customs people examined Mr. Spence's backpack and discovered a size 13 pair of sneakers which contained the cocaine. Two other packages of cocaine were discovered in the backpack. 

When his cabin was searched, customs officials found more than £16,000 in cash. 

Princess Cruises cruise ships are flagged in Bermuda, which routinely busts U.S. passengers for small amounts of pot, but has an indifferent attitude toward violent crimes on its Bermuda flagged cruise ships. 

The newspaper reports that Mr. Spence has been in the cruise industry for 15 years.

Is this his first attempt at drug smuggling?

 

Epilogue:  Cruise lines like Princess, despite their best marketing efforts to portray themselves providing safe and carefree "Love Boat" experiences, are often associated with drug smuggling.  For example, in 1998 the original "Love Boat," the Pacific Princess, was impounded by police in Piraeus, Greece after 25 kg of heroin was found on board, smuggled by two Filipino crew men.  According to police sources quoted in the BBC report at the time, there was evidence the cruise ship had become a major tool for drug smugglers in the Mediterranean.

 

Photo credit: Daily Echo  

Cruise Passenger Busted for Crack in Belize City

7 New Belize reports today on the arrest of a 27-year old British cruise passenger in Belize City.

A police officer working at the Tourism Village reportedly arrested Paul Smith, after he was "acting suspiciously" and searched him. The officer found 2.3 grammes of crack cocaine inside a pack of cigarettes in Smith's pocket.

Smith pleaded guilty to trafficking and a local constable fined him ten thousand dollars to be paid forthwith, or serve three months in prison. 

The newspaper reports that Smith was unable to pay the fine and remains in jail. 

The article did not mention the name of the cruise ship.  Carnival, Celebrity, Holland, Norwegian, Princess and Royal Caribbean sail to Belize.

You can read other stories about passengers busted for drugs during cruises here.

Here We Go Again - Bermuda Shakes Down Another Cruise Ship Pot Head

Four days ago, I wrote about the absurdity of Bermuda sending in customs agents with sniffer dogs onto cruise ships to conduct lawless searches for pot while the cruise passengers are vacationing ashore.   Bermuda engages in warrant-less random searches of unoccupied cabins, without any semblance of probable cause, and will even instruct the cruise line employees to open up locked safes when the passengers are ashore to search for a few marijuana cigarettes. 

Why?  U.S. passengers are easy marks.  No American charged with possession of a couple of joints will risk spending a couple of months when they can spend a couple of thousands of dollars Bermuda - Cruise Ship Potand go home.  

Its easy money.    

I have written a half dozen article about this ridiculous situation.  You can read my last article here: Bermuda Shakes Down Another Cruise Ship Pot Head

Well, here we go again. Bermnews reports today that yesterday a 62 year old retired U.S. physician from New Jersey was arrested for possessing 8 grams of cannabis after Bermuda customs conducted a random and warrant-less search of the Norwegian Gem.  Magistrate Wolffe fined the passenger $2,000 to be paid immediately or the retired doctor would go to jail.

The fact that the passenger had no intention of taking the pot ashore, or that the pot was for his personal use locked in a safe, were was of no concern for the judicial system in Bermuda.  

Even the local citizens in Bermuda have figured out this is a scam.  Consider these comments to the newspaper article in Bermuda:  

"I can’t believe these customs officers are searching unoccupied cabins!!! This is nuts, crazy and stupid! We are losing tourists left right and center with these unethical searches. Stop it you idiots! Go find the heroin and crack!

Good work! We managed to wait in ambush for a 62 year old retiree and take him down for possession of a little bit of ganja! God knows that old geezer was a serious threat to our very existence out here in the Atlantic Ocean! Luckily we caught him before he had the chance to strike up another spliff, because the very foundation of our society would surely have crumbled! Guess who we’ll never see in Bermuda? Anyone who knows Mr.Reisen. They’ll go to some other island.

Very well put! a tourist wanting to smoke on vacation, heaven forbid they get the munchies and actually spend money in a Bermuda restaurant.

Once again an example of the colossal waste of time that is this island’s current drug policy.  Instead of devoting resources to tracking down gangbangers who are shooting it out in broad daylight we choose to instead employ a highly trained canine unit to search every cruise ship in order to invariably uncover marginal amounts of weed, wait around for hours until the master criminal returns, arrest them, then send the few grams of weed to a technician to be examined, then employ a team of prosecutors and a judge to waste valuable court time so that we can levy a fine on a 62 year old tourist. Bravo.

Again, no witness, no injured party . . . Please Bermuda-stop the madness . . ."

October 12 2011 Update:  Senior Magistrate Warner, who has raised the issue whether cruise ship pot busts are legal, "described it as “vexing” and “embarrassing” that tourists are charged for having small quantities of cannabis."  The magistrate made these comments as he sentenced a  28 year old crewmember from Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas a 12-month conditional discharge for possessing 5g of pot. 

Bermuda Shakes Down Another Cruise Ship Pot Head

Reefer Madness - Bermuda - Cruise Ship Drug BustThe Royal Gazette reports on Bermuda busting yet another U.S. cruise ship passenger for possessing a small amount of pot for personal use. 

This incident yesterday occurred when Bermuda customs officers brought their sniffer dogs aboard the Norwegian Dawn and busted a Massachusetts passenger for 8 grams of cannabis which was located in a safe in the passenger's cabin.

Bermuda customs officials arrested the NCL passenger - who incidentally was on this three year anniversary with his wife - and hauled him in front of a local criminal magistrate who fined him $2,000.

Drug sniffer dogs + small amounts of pot + quick fines for U.S. passengers = big business in Bermuda.  Doesn't seem to be anything called probable cause or an arrest warrant on this rocky island in the middle of the Atlantic.  

Cruise ships are a major source of drug trafficking in Bermuda.  Consider this Bermuda facebook page information:

"Illegal Substances and Drug Trafficking: Crews of cruise ships and drug couriers are the major importers.  There is a zero tolerance policy in Bermuda; penalties for not complying are very harsh in Bermuda for even the smallest amount (Forbes, 2011)."

Also consider the following articles in the last year:

Bermuda Customs, Cruise Ship Cabins & Illegal Searches = Easy U.S. Money $$$

Bermuda Continues Cruise Ship Drug Busts 

Busted in Bermuda - Customs Officials Extort Money From Cruise Passengers By Unconstitutional Drug SearchesBermuda Drug Dogs - Cruise Ship Marijuana

High Times on the High Seas - Cruise Industry Struggles with "Reefer Madness" 

Are You a Stoner? Don't Cruise to Bermuda!

Royal Caribbean Passengers Busted For Drugs, Taser Gun in Bermuda

Cruise Ships & Drug Smuggling

Stay tuned.  Bermuda busts cruise passengers it seems almost weekly. 

But if a passenger or crew is raped or disappears on a Bermuda flagged cruise ship, Bermuda will never do anything.  It is too busy grabbing the easy money by busting Americans with a few joints stashed away in a safe in the cruise ship cabin.   

October 6, 2011 Update:  Cruise ship reefer madness contiues in Bermuda, another passenger with pot in a safe in the cruise ship cabin getrs busted -  Here We Go Again - Bermuda Shakes Down Another Cruise Ship Pot Head.

 

Photo credits:

Top:  Reefer Madness

Bottom:  REC 383/ GEOG 323 Bermuda

Carnival Cruise Passenger Busted for Cocaine in San Juan

Tribute Weekly Chronicle, a publication in San Juan, Puerto Rico, reports that U.S. Customs and Border officials in San Juan arrested a Carnival cruise passenger last Sunday  for possession of cocaine.

The arrest occurred during what is described as a random inspection of passengers arriving from St. Christopher – Nevis.  The passenger was sailing on on board the Carnival Victory.   U.S. Customs and Border officers arrested Carl Peterkin, a 27 year old U.S. citizen when they located 1,694 grams of cocaine inside his backpack.

His brother, Steven Peterkin, 23, was also arrested on conspiracy charges.

 

Bermuda Customs, Cruise Ship Cabins & Illegal Searches = Easy U.S. Money $$$

Bermuda - Cruise Ship DrugsBernews reports that Bermuda Customs officials boarded the Norwegian Gem yesterday and search an unoccupied passenger cabin and seized 6 grams of pot. 

Magistrate Archie Warner, who we have blogged about before, fined the American cruise passenger $1,000 or 90 days prison if the fine was not paid immediately. 

6 grams is less than a 1/4 ounce of pot.  Something like 6 - 7 marijuana cigarettes. 

Bermuda loves busting Americans for small amounts of pot, even though the pot is in a locked cabin on the cruise ship and the passenger has no intention of taking it ashore.  Probable cause?  A warrant?  Apparently not necessary in Bermuda, at least not for cruise ships.  

Fining cruise passengers $1,000 to $3,000 is a major source of revenue for the island.  No U.S. passenger is going to sit in a jail for three months.  The customs officials and judges in Bermuda know it.  It's easy money.  Wait for the passengers to go ashore and then take the sniffer dogs from cabin to cabin when no one is there,

Last month I blogged about Magistrate Warner raising his eyebrows at these type of random, warrant-less searches.  He complained at a court hearing that it was only a matter of time before a victim of such an illegal search sued the customs officials and prosecutors for such conduct.  His concern for due process seems to be a temporary thought.

Bermuda - Pot - Cruise Ship The blog I wrote Busted in Bermuda - Customs Officials Extort Money From Cruise Passengers By Unconstitutional Drug Searches was not well received by some of the citizens of Bermuda who commented on our blog.

Click on our "Drugs" category to the left.  You will see that most drug seizures are in Bermuda and involve tiny amount of marijuana for personal use.  We have written lots of articles like this, including: 

Are You a Stoner? Don't Cruise to Bermuda!

If you sail to Bermuda, you are free to drink like a fish on the cruise ship or in the bars ashore.  But if you sneak a little reefer on board, be prepared to be shaken down by the officials in Bermuda.  

Bermuda Continues Cruise Ship Drug Busts

Yesterday the Bermuda Sun reported on two additional drugs busts involving both cruise passengers and crewmembers.

The Bermuda Sun reports that yet another cruise passenger was arrested with a small amount of marijuana in his cabin.  This arrest involved a 48 year old US tourist who was arrested after Customs officers from Bermuda entered his cabin.  The cruise passenger was present and admitted having six grams of cannabis in the cruise ship safe. Customs officers claim that Bermuda Cruise Ship Drug Bustthey searched the cabin on the Celebrity Summit in Dockyard on August 17 after receiving an unidentified "tip-off."

Earlier this week I blogged about how Bermuda raises revenue by going onto cruise ships and searching for pot when there is no intention of the passengers taking it ashore.  A senior Magistrate questioned the legality of conducting random, warrant-less searches with no probable cause, as I mentioned in my article: Busted in Bermuda - Customs Officials Extort Money From Cruise Passengers By Unconstitutional Drug Searches

Magistrate Archibald Warner, who we reported on above questioning the legality of warrant-less random searches, nonetheless fined the passenger $1,000.

The Bermuda Sun also reported that  a crewmember from the Holland America Line (HAL) Veendam cruise ship was arrested on drugs charges.  Crewmember Dhimas Pradiptar allegedly conspired with unidentified "others" to bring approximately 340g of cannabis to Bermuda for purposes of selling the pot.

He pleaded not guilty and was released on $15,000 bail. He is scheduled to reappear at Magistrates’ Court on November 17th.

For more news on Bermuda and pot, don't forget to read: High Times on the High Seas - Cruise Industry Struggles with "Reefer Madness"

Busted in Bermuda - Customs Officials Extort Money From Cruise Passengers By Unconstitutional Drug Searches

This year we have been reporting on the high number of arrests by the Bermuda customs officials of cruise ship passengers for small amounts of marijuana. 

A Pattern of Invading Cruise Cabins and Shaking U.S. Passengers Down for Money 

Bermuda Flag - Drug BustsAll of the cases fit into a pattern. 

After the cruise ship arrives in port, the passenger leave their cabins and go ashore for sightseeing or to purchase souvenirs from the local vendors in port.  While the passengers are ashore, the Bermuda customs officers will board the cruise ship with sniffer dogs and sneak into the passengers' cabins with the drug dogs.  If they find pot, usually in an amount for 6-8 cigarettes or so, they will wait for the passenger to return to the cruise ship and arrest them.  They will then haul the passengers ashore and jail them. 

When the case is finally called, the Magistrate will lecture them and give them the option of 30 to 50 days in jail or paying a fine of $1,000 to $3,000 and leave the country.  The passengers always pay the money and then fly back to the U.S rather than spend a month or two in jail.

In none of the cases we have reported on has there been a search warrant to enter the cabin.  Nor has there there been any indication that the customs officers had probable cause to invade the private cabins of the passengers.    

You can read about the individual cases in our articles:  Are You a Stoner? Don't Cruise to Bermuda!, Cruise Ships & Drug Smuggling and High Times on the High Seas - Cruise Industry Struggles with "Reefer Madness"   The press in Bermuda loves to cover these cases and identify the U.S.passengers and even photograph them, as you can read about here.   

I have always scratched my head reading about these shake downs.  Why don't the defense lawyers move to dismiss the charges because the pot was seized after an illegal entry where there was no probable cause to enter the private cabins nor did the authorities bother to obtain a search warrant?  In the U.S., a case like this would be thrown out in a New York second and the prosecution chastised.

Does Bermuda's Constitution Prohibit Illegal Search and Seizures? 

Cruise Ship Drugs - BermudaWhen I was 15 years old and taking my first constitutional law course (yes, my parents sent me to a great prep school), I read for the first time something called the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution:

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

Does Bermuda have a similar provision in a constitution to protect its people from random searches and seizures by the police?

This morning, I seem to have found my answer while reading an article in the BDA Sun last Friday entitled "Cruise Passengers Fined for Cannabis After 'Unconstitutional' Search."

The article covers the story of two women in their fifties from New York who went ashore to visit the sights in Bermuda after the Norwegian Jade cruise arrived in port.  The customs officers entered the cabin the women shared without their knowledge or permission, and without a search warrant or good reason.  They found eight grams of cannabis.  That's about enough weed for ten cigarettes.   

The customs officers arrested the two women and took them to jail.  They were booked for importing the weed into Bermuda, even though they went ashore without the pot and had no intention of taking it ashore and even though the customs officers had to go onto the ship, trespass the ladies' private cabin and root around to find it.

Senior Magistrate Archibald Warner - Bermuda - Cruise Pot"It's Only A Matter of Time Before You All Get Sued"

The newspaper reports that Senior Magistrate Archibald Warner (photo left) fined the two ladies $1,000 each but he did not appear to be particularly happy about doing so.  Here is the exchange between the Magistrate and the prosecution taken verbatim from the local newspaper:

“I see on all these summaries of evidence that customs officers are carrying out random searches on people’s rooms."

“Who told customs officers they can carry out random searches?”

Crown counsel Tawana Tannock told Mr. Warner she wasn’t instructed on that question.

Mr. Warner then said: “Can the police or customs just go in anybody’s room whether hotel or ship and search them?”

Ms. Tannock said: “I can’t speak to that.”

The magistrate replied: “Like a hotel room or somebody’s house, people pay good money for the cruise room."

“So you all may be looking to get sued."

“I mean, if they’re guilty, they’re guilty by the fine for the simple possession is $1,000.”

The Magistrate told Ms. Tannock customs officers should consider or reconsider the search method.

Mr. Warner continued: “I can tell you that there is no such provision giving anybody such authority."

NCL Cruise Ship - Drug Bust - Bermuda“It’s unconstitutional, it would be unconstitutional."

“It’s only a matter of time before you all get sued.”

Bermuda has probably netted $100,000 playing this monkey game with cruise passengers over the past several years.  Are there any competent criminal defense lawyers who can take a hint from Senior Magistrate Warner and raise a peremptory challenge to these type of illegal search and seizures?  

Are there any independent advocates on the island willing to sue the customs officials and prosecutors for what is patently an ongoing unlawful scheme to threaten cruise passengers with jail time in order to reach into their pockets for money?  

August 19, 2011 Update:

The Bermuda Sun reports that a 48 year old US tourist after Customs officers from Bermuda entered his cabin.  The cruise passenger was present and admitted having six grams of cannabis in the cruise ship safe. Customs officers claim that they searched the cabin on the Celebrity Summit in Dockyard on August 17 after receiving an unidentified "tip-off."

Magistrate Archibald Warner, who we reported on above questioning the legality of warrantless random searches, fined the passenger $1,000.

 

High Times on the High Seas - Cruise Industry Struggles with "Reefer Madness"

The cruise industry is struggling with its own form of "reefer madness" over the last month.  Here's what has been happening in the weird world of cruise ship pot heads, dealers and smugglers.  

Bermuda Bust No. 1:   Earlier this week, customs agents in Bermuda arrested two Royal Caribbean crewmembers for importing cocaine into the islands on a cruise ship. 

Reefer Madness - Cruise Ship DrugsBernews reported that two Royal Caribbean crewmembers were charged with importing 200 grams of cocaine with an estimated street value of just over $52,000 last week.

35 year old Clarence James, from St. Vincent, pleaded guilty to importing and conspiring to import after he was caught with the drugs in the soles of his shoes.  He initially claimed that another Royal Caribbean crewmember, 36 year old Jamaican Delroy Duncan, gave him the shoes to wear and he did not know that there were drugs in them.  Later, he claimed that Mr. Duncan told him to smuggle the drugs ashore.  Mr. Duncan denies he gave him drugs to take off the cruise ship.

Royal Caribbean employed Mr. James as a bartender and Mr. Duncan as a utility cleaner. 

Royal Caribbean has been in the news quite a bit in the last eight months with crew drug busts on the Explorer of the Seas, Grandeur of the Seas, and the Enchantment of the Seas.

Bermuda Bust No. 2:   The BDA Sun reports that two U.S. passenger were arrested on the Norwegian Jade when Bermuda police conducted random searched on the cruise ship while passengers were ashore.   They were sharing a cabin and had eight grams of pot. 

Bermuda Bust No. 3:  The BDA Sun also reports that last month a U.S. cruise passenger  from Connecticut was fined $800 for a small amount of pot which the Bermuda police obtained after searching the Celebrity Summit.  The police conducted random searches of passenger cabins with a sniffer dog.

Bermuda Bust No. 4:   The authorities in Bermuda arrested a 39 year old cruise tourist from New Jersey last month as well.   A sniffer dog found 13 cannabis cigarettes in the passenger's bedside table on board Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas.  The BDA Sun indicates that the passenger left the island after paying $3,000.

The authorities in Bermuda seemed skilled at violating the rights of cruise passenger by entering cabins without any pretense of probable cause to look for small amounts of pot.  I wonder if citizens in Bermuda have the right against unlawful searches and seizures?    

St. Thomas:   A Royal Caribbean passenger, Steven Barry Krumholz, recently admitted selling large quantities of ecstasy, methamphetamine and ketamine to fellow passengers during a cruise on board Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas during what was billed as the largest gay cruise in the world last February.  He had $51,000 on him when arrested.  

We blogged about the incident - Passenger Busted for Selling Drugs on Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas.  It was one of the most read articles ever on Cruise Law News with around 270 people "liking" it on facebook or tweeting it on Twitter. 

Federal Chief District Judge Curtis Gomez set sentencing for November 2nd.  Unlike the passengers who were caught with a couple of joints, Mr. Krumholz is in a world of trouble.  The maximum sentence is 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

Reefer Madness - Cruise Ship DrugsMiami:   Perhaps the highest profile cruise related drug bust was last week when U.S. Customs officers arrested rapper "Big Boi," of the hip-hop duo "OutKast," on drug possession charges as he disembarked a cruise ship.  You can see his mugs shots here.  Seems like Big Boi or members of his posse like ecstasy and Viagra which is a crime to possess without a prescription. 

But unlike Bermuda where the customs officer entered passengers with dogs looking for drugs, in Miami the K-9 sniffer dogs got him after he left the cruise ship and was in the terminal. 

The interesting thing about all of these cases is that none of the drugs were found by the cruise line.  It makes you wonder about cruise ship security, doesn't it?  It seems easy to smuggle drugs past the shipboard security. The cruise ship security seem to be experts in confiscating your bottle of Chardonnay in your suitcase to keep liquor sales up for the revenue department.  But they don't seem interested in your reefer. 

The port authorities, especially in Bermuda, are a different matter.  They love to bust Americans, particularly U.S. passengers with just a quarter ounce of pot back in the cabin for personal use.  

God forbid that a stoned cruise passenger enter the port and wander around eating brownies and a big bag of Doritos.  

Rapper Big Boi Arrested for Drugs Leaving Cruise Ship in Miami

U.S. customs agents in Miami arrested rapper "Big Boi," of the hip-hop duo "OutKast," on drug possession charges as he disembarked a cruise ship.   

Big Boi Cruise Drug Arrest  TMZ reports that Big Boi (real name Antwan Patton), had "ecstasy pills, MDMA powder and Viagra" in his luggage as he was leaving the unidentified cruise ship after it returned to the Port of Miami.

It apparently is a felony to possess Viagra without a prescription.  Seems to be a tad embarrassing to be called "Big Boi" and get busted for Viagra of all things.  I have never heard of "MDMA powder" but it is apparently a purer form of ecstasy. 

Some people may jump to the conclusion that customs picked on Big Boi because he is a rapper.  But cruise passengers get arrested for drugs all of the time.  

Just last week, American passenger Richard Battistella from New Jersey was arrested when customs officers from Bermuda brought a sniffer dog onto the Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas cruise ship and found "13 spliffs" in a bedside drawer in his cabin.  According to the Royal Gazette newspaper, the passenger pled guilty to importing cannabis into Bermuda (even though the pot never left his cabin) and he paid a $3,000 fine.

Big Boi was held and then released on a $16,000 bond.  His attorney gave this statement to the press: "While Big Boi was traveling with his group and friends, a small amount of contraband was found in the collective luggage . . . I am confident when the entire facts are aired Big Boi will be completely exonerated."

Meanwhile Big Boi tweeted: "Fresh Out Baby ! . . . Shiiiiit they said it was the Love Boat."  

Anyone know the name of the cruise ship he was sailing on?  Please leave a comment below.  (Other passengers are saying Carnival Valor).

Rapper Big Boi Drug Bust on Cruise Ship

For other stories about drug busts on cruise ships, consider reading:

Are You a Stoner? Don't Cruise to Bermuda!

Cruise Ship Drug Crimes Soar!

Passenger Busted for Selling Drugs on Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas

 

Photo credits: 

Top:  Big Boi Twitter page

Bottom: Gawker 

Are You a Stoner? Don't Cruise to Bermuda!

The cops in Bermuda love to bust American tourists with small amounts of pot, even if the pot never leaves the cruise ship. 

In April, I wrote an article about Bermudan customs officers and police who boarded a cruise ship with a drug sniffing dog and found seven homemade cigarettes in the passenger cabin's safe.  The cruise passenger was fined $3,000.  The newspapers in Bermuda are quick to identify the names and ages of the American tourists and photograph them, but they avoid mentioning the name of the cruise ship or cruise line, issues I talked about in my blog The Bermuda Press and the Cruise Industry - See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil.

Cheech and Chong - Reefer - Up In SmokeIn October 2009, a cruise passenger was busted for pot when a Bermudan customs sniffer dog found 12 joints of marijuana during a search of the cruise ship, while the ship was in port in St. George's.  The cruise passenger pled guilty to importing drugs into Bermuda, which is difficult to understand because the joints were discovered in the passenger's luggage inside his cabin on the cruise ship.

In May of 2010, two cruise passengers were arrested by Bermudan police officers who boarded the cruise ship and searched the ladies' cabin. They found a plastic bag with 6.68 grams of cannabis. The Court in Bermuda fined them $500 each for possessing marijuana, even though it was for their personal use and they did not try to bring the reefer ashore.

Well, the Bermudan authorities have now stepped enforcement up.  They have been enjoying a field day in the last month arresting Americans with small amounts of pot.

The Sun newspaper in Bermuda reports last week that a cruise passenger from a cruise ship (the newspaper chose not to mention its name) was fined $2,500 for possessing 10 grams of cannabis.  Bermudan customs officers boarded the ship and found a small bag of pot and partially smoked cigarettes.

Arguing to a court in Bermuda that the pot is for medicinal purposes will make the matter worse, as two American women learned in separate incidents. 

According to the Sun newspaper, Teresa Sheridan, 53, of Oregon was arrested last month at the airport in Bermuda when customs officials found a bag with just three grams of cannabis.  She claimed that she smoked pot as treatment for depression.  The court was not impressed and imposed a fine of $2,000.   

A worst fate met U.S. tourist Edith Lord Wolffe, 59, who was also arrested last month at the airport in Bermuda.  Customs officials found 14 homemade marijuana cigarettes in her luggage. 

Her lawyer argued for leniency.  Ms. Wolffe was from California where pot has been de-criminalized.  She smokes marijuana for her Ménière's disease.  The lawyer informed the court that she has a prescription for the marijuana from her doctor as she suffers from the chronic illness.  He presented the court with a copy of a medical certificate with the illness and prescription outlined on it to treat the medical condition.  According to the Sun newspaper, the court responded:  “I am of the view that this matter calls for an immediate custodial sentence.”  The court fined Ms. Wolffe $3,000 plus 30 days in jail.

Bermuda has a strange sense of priorities.  It has a pitiful record investigating the disappearances of crew members or prosecuting violent crimes, such as rape, on Bermuda flagged cruise ships, as we have written about before.  If you are a sexual predator on a Bermudan flagged ship, no policeman from Bermuda will ever bother you. 

But if you are a stoner who cruises to Bermuda and have a few joints stashed back on the cruise ship in your luggage, prepared to be arrested, fined and perhaps incarcerated. 

And don't tell the judge that pot is legal in California and you get high for medical reasons . . .   

 

June 27, 2011 Update:  The Royal Gazette newspaper reports that a "cruise ship drug smuggler" was sentenced to two and one-half years in prison for delivering "cannabis residue" to Bermuda and collecting $7,000.  His companion was fined $1,000.  As usual, this newspaper did not mention the name of the cruise line or cruise ship. 

Cruise Ship Drug Crimes Soar!

This week we reported on a cruise bust on a cruise ship in the Cayman Islands involving a group of crew members from Jamaica and St. Vincent.  It sounds like the drug busts we reported on involving Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas and the Enchantment of the Seas.    

There is no question that drug smuggling on cruise ships is seriously on the rise.

Today my perception of the extent of the problem can into focus when I read the highly respected Cruise Ship Drugs maritime source Lloyd's List's report on the problem of drug smuggling on cruise ships.  In an article entitled "Drug Crimes Linked to Cruiseships Soar 52%," Lloyd's List stated:

"UK based Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) told Lloyd’s List there had also been a sharp increase in drug smuggling on cruise ships, which prompted it to issue a specific alert to cruise lines. SOCA said that despite its alert, cruise operators are down playing the problem and continue to rely on existing security measures to deal with the problem. The upsurge appears to be linked to professional drug gangs increasingly targeting cruise vessels. According to the law enforcement agencies, drug gangs have turned to cruise ships because drug enforcement agencies have worked hard to stifle smuggling routes using yachts, fishing boats, cargo vessels and aircraft.  The gangs now see cruise ships as alternative vehicles for carrying drugs."

The statistic that blew me away was that the number of drug crimes detected in the US linked to cruiseships increased last year to 663, according to figures obtained by Lloyd’s List from the US Border Agency!

The presence of such large quantities of drugs on cruise ships reflects several problems with the cruise industry:

(1)  The notion that cruise lines perform background checks on their employees is a joke.  The fact of the matter that some of the waiters, bartenders, and cabin attendants serving your family during the cruise are drug smugglers. 

(2)  The cruise lines are more skilled at catching passengers who try to smuggle a bottle of Chardonnay wine aboard, than they are guarding the ship entrances for drug-smuggling crew members and large amounts of provisions loaded by fork lifts. There are simply not enough security guards aboard cruise ships.  The cruise industry knows it.  The reality is that cruise lines are more interested in making money selling booze and confiscating wine and alcohol brought aboard by passengers than intercepting large quantities of cocaine smuggled by their own employees.

(3)  The presence of professional drug gangs presents a huge risk of violence against passengers and crew members who see suspicious drug-related activities on the cruise ship.  It is easy to get tossed overboard if you see something you shouldn't have seen. 

The cruise line's CCTV cameras never seem to work when this happens.

 

Photo credit: AOL News - Are Drugs on Cruise Ships on the Rise?
 

Cruise Ship Drug Bust in Cayman Islands

Cayman News Service reports that three crew members were arrested for possession of two kilos of cocaine.  The cruise employees were from St. Vincent and Jamaica. 

As is often the case, the local police did not identify the name of the cruise ship or cruise line. 

The three cruise ships in port at the time of the arrest were Royal Caribbean's Jewel of the Seas, the German AIDAluna, and Oceana.

I'm taking bets.  2 to 1 its Royal Caribbean - the cruise line drug dealers prefer .  .  . 

 

 

Video credit:  Cayman 27 

 

Million Dollar Drug Bust on Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship in Montego Bay

The Jamaica Observer is reporting conflicting stories about a large drug bust on a cruise ship in Montego Bay yesterday.  The cruise ship had sailed from Columbia.

In one article, the newspaper reports that 50 pounds of cocaine valued at over one million dollars (U.S.)  was seized yesterday from a cruise ship in Montego Bay Jamaica.  22 pounds of cocaine was found strapped to a passenger.  The passenger was identified as Ricardo Chin.  Another 28 pounds of coke was found in a suitcase in a cabin occupied by another passenger.  It is less than clear whether there is a connection between the two passengers

Yet in another article, the Observer reports that Royal Caribbean says authorities in Jamaica have detained two crew members from one of its cruise ships after they were found with cocaine when the ship was docked in Montego Bay.  The cruise line says in a statement that customs officers found 18 kilograms (40 pounds) of the drug on one of the crewmen and 15 kilograms (33 pounds) in the cabin of another crew member on Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas

Drug busts on Royal Caribbean cruise ships have been a common occurrence lately:

Royal Caribbean Crew Member Sentenced to 15 Years for Drug Smuggling

Passenger Busted for Selling Drugs on Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas

Another Royal Caribbean Crew Member Busted for Drug Smuggling

Royal Caribbean Crew Member Sentenced to 15 Years for Drug Smuggling

A Court in Bermuda sentenced a Royal Caribbean waiter, Ricardo Stewart, 32, of Ochos Rios Jamaica, to 15 years in prison for organizing the smuggling of cocaine on the Explorer of the Seas.  We reported on the story in a prior article - Another Royal Caribbean Crew Member Busted for Drug Smuggling.

There are articles on line from Bermuda and Jamaica about the sentencing.

Ricardo Stewart - Waiter - Royal Caribbean - DrugsThe Royal Gazette newspaper in Bermuda reported on the emotional statement Mr. Stewart made at the hearing:

"I’m innocent.  I’ve been working on the cruise ships for nine and a half years and taking care of my son and my fiancee and my mother.  I’ve never been involved with anything to do with the law .  .  .  I promised my son I would never be away from him more than six months. I’ve been locked up since June and the Crown wants to send me away 20 years. I will plead my innocence until I die.”

The Court indicated that it was mindful of Mr. Stewart’s two dependents his child and mother, and  then imposed a sentence of 15 years, with time spent in prison to be taken into account.

 

Photo credit:   Bermuda Sun

Passenger Busted for Selling Drugs on Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas

Earlier this week, we blogged about the prevalence of drugs on the Atlantis gay parties on Royal Caribbean cruise ships and asked whether the cruise line was prepared to deal with problems as the Allure of the Seas sailed this week - Is Royal Caribbean Ready for Medical Emergencies During the World's Largest Gay Cruise?

Steven Barry KrumholzWe received a comment to our article from a cruiser: "I've been on 13 Atlantis cruises. Friends of mine on ship are reporting one death by falling, multiple people removed at first port for drugs and a several minutes long announcement by the captain about drugs. Amazed RCCL puts up with this."

Well today the AP is reporting that a passenger from California was arrested in the U.S. Virgin Islands on suspicion of selling drugs to fellow passengers on the Allure of the Seas. According to the AP:

"Steven Barry Krumholz, 51, of West Hollywood, was arrested on board the Allure of the Seas in St. Thomas, said Jeffrey Quinones, a spokesman in Puerto Rico for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

The ship had just come from the Bahamas on a charter billed as the "world's largest gay cruise."

Customs and Border Protection agents boarded the ship Wednesday and found drugs on another passenger, who said he had placed an order with Krumholz before the trip and picked them up while on board, according to an affidavit submitted by one of the investigating agents.

Agents searched Krumholz's cabin and allegedly found more than 142 ecstasy pills, nearly 3 grams of methamphetamine, a small quantity of ketamine and about $51,000 in cash, the agent said.

While waiting for the suspect to return to his cabin, two more passengers came to buy drugs, according to the affidavit."

$51,000 in cash.  Wow.  That's alot of drugs sold to passengers on the Allure.

Sounds like high times on the high seas.

 

Allure of the Seas - Atlantis Events - Largest Gay Cruise - Drugs

 

Credit:  "high time on the high seas" is a quote I first heard from friend Chris Owen

Photo credit:  top - Steven Krumholz facebook; bottom - Atlantis Events facebook page

Another Royal Caribbean Crew Member Busted for Drug Smuggling

Royal Caribbean - Drugs - Explorer of the SeasIn the last couple of weeks we have reported on a Royal Caribbean drug ring smuggling large quantities of heroin and cocaine on the Enchantment of the Seas cruise ship into Baltimore from the Caribbean islands.  The cruise line's spin?  Drug running is rare.  Our take - its business as usual. 

So here we go again. 

The Royal Gazette newspaper in Bermuda reports that a Royal Caribbean waiter was found guilty yesterday of conspiring to import more than $424,000 worth of cocaine into Bermuda. 

Jamaican crew member Ricardo Stewart (photo left and below) from Ocho Rios allegedly masterminded the drug operation, conspiring with fellow crew member Adrian Morris and others to import the cocaine to Bermuda on Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas.

The newspaper reports that the plot fell apart after packages containing almost 4 kg of cocaine were found hidden under a chair in the cruise ship’s disco, of all places.

The drugs reportedly had an estimated street value in Bermuda of between $424,500 and $735,375, depending on how it was sold.

Royal Caribbean - Drugs - Explorer of the SeasKelnile Bushay, another Royal Caribbean crew member arrested during the investigation, stated that passengers would take the drugs on and off the cruise ship, "with crew members stashing the drugs around the ship while the vessel was traveling between destinations." 

One of the problems we have discussed in prior blogs about Royal Caribbean crew members smuggling drugs is that some of the low paid cleaners are paid less than $600 a month (working over 360 hours a month) and are easily pusuaded into making some quick cash.  In this case, Adrian Morris, a Jamaican father-of-two, was allegedly recruited by Stewart "told the jury he earned $565 per month for his legitimate work as a cleaner.  However, Mr. Stewart offered him $1,500 to move a bag of drugs around the ship." 

Is it any surprise that Royal Caribbean crew members making only $565 a month are enticed to supplement their income smuggling some smack and blow? 

 

Photo credit:  Royal Gazette

A Lost Cruise Trial, More Cruise Crime, More Cruise Drugs and Who Wants to Cruise to Mexico Anyway?

A super busy week took me away from the computer for the last week.  What a fun week at Cruise Law and in the strange world of cruising:    

Lose Some / Win Some:  A trial involving our client, an injured passenger, ended poorly for us and well for Royal Caribbean which obtained a defense verdict after a three day trial (and two years of litigation).  The case was defended by the law firm of Horr, Novak & Skipp.  Although he got popped last year with a verdict over $9,000,000 in a cruise line case, Mr. Horr is, in my opinion, the David Horr - Cruise Line Lawyerbest defense lawyer for the cruise lines in Miami.  Supported by the usual small army of cruise lawyers and support staff, he did his usual great job.  This is only the second case Cruise Law has lost in the past ten years.  We are consoled by the fact that the cruise line probably spent over $150,000 defending the case.  A $15,000,000,000 cruise line corporation which pays no U.S. taxes has money to burn.  It's a nice feeling to see good lawyers like Horr get paid lots of money, especially by the scoundrels at Royal Caribbean.       

Another Sexual Assault on the Love Boat?:  According to the LA Weekly Blogs, another alleged sexual assault aboard a Princess cruise ship has ended up in court.  California resident Marisa Foppoli claims in her lawsuit that a crew member aboard the Island Princess sexually assaulted her while cruising from Acapulco to Florida.  The passenger alleged that the crew member had a "prior, similar incident of misconduct" while employed aboard one of Princess' ships.

We have reported on sex crimes on cruise ships operated by Princess before:  Unsafe on the "Love Boat?" - Sexual Assaults on Princess Cruise Ships.  A Princess crew member tried last year for a sexual assault was acquitted last year - Love Boat Waiter Acquitted of Sexually Assaulting Passenger.

More Drugs on a Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship  Two weeks ago, we blogged about three Royal Caribbean crew members (cooks) who smuggled heroin and cocaine from the Dominican Republic during a stop of the Royal Caribbean's Enchantment of the Seas and were arrested after the cruise ship reached Baltimore.  Well here we go again.  CBS News reports that $100,000 worth of cocaine and heroin were found in a crew only area on the same cruise ship which has been sailing from Baltimore to the Caribbean islands.      

Is it any surprise that Royal Caribbean galley workers earning less than $600 a month are enticed to supplement their income smuggling some smack and blow?   

Cruise, Crime, and Beheaded Mexicans is Hard to Sell:  Speaking of drugs, last week Carnival said Thursday that it is pulling the last of its cruise ships (the Carnival Spirit) out of southern California to Australia next year.

Mexico - Drug Violence - Cruise ShipsTomorrow Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas is making its final voyage from the Port of Los Angeles and will re-position to its new home base of Galveston, Texas. Norwegian Cruise Line's Star cruise ship will leave Los Angeles in a couple of months to reposition to Tampa.

The Los Angeles Times has reported that drug-related violence has meant fading interest in cruises to Mexico, the chief destination of California-based ships.  The AP reports that although the port officials and cruise industry have tried to emphasize that most violence in Mexico takes place away from cruise destinations, the message has a hard time "competing with images of beheaded bodies on the news."  Ugh.

But this is not new news.  Last summer we reported that Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Lines Pull Ships From L.A. Due To Crime In Mexico.

Sexual assaults on the Love Boat?  Drugs on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship?  And cruise lines unable to sell cruises to Mexico?    Nothing new here . . .

 

Photo credits: 

David Horr - Horr, Novak & Skipp

Mexican violence -   http://www.nocaptionneeded.com/

Drug Bust on MSC Poesia Cruise Ship

MSC Poesia - Jam Fest CruiseFederal and local agents with K-9 dogs raided the MSC Poesia earlier this week looking to arrest passengers with drugs.

The Orlando Sentinel reports that officers from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the U.S.Marshals Service, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Broward Sheriff's Office participated in the raid.  

The raid targeted the cruise ship right at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale before it sailed with music fans on its Jam Fest cruise around the Caribbean.  The raid resulted in the arrest of some passengers and the seizure of small quantities of pot, mushrooms, hash oil, LSD, Ecstasy, and prescription drugs as well as unspecified drug paraphernalia.   

It sounds like this was a raid targeting the music fans on the belief (hope) that they brought drugs aboard for the Jam Fest cruise.  But it sounds like the seizure was just small amounts of recreational drugs.

The real problem with drugs on cruise ships is when crime cartels use cruise ships to smuggle large quantities of cocaine and heroin.  Early this week a story broke indicating that "Drug Gangs Target Cruise Ships."  The article mentioned that that "gangs are placing couriers on board ships, and also attempting to corrupt crewmembers, in order to bring in "multi-kilo loads" of drugs."  Eight eastern Europeans were recently sentenced in England after being convicted of attempting to smuggle over 75 pounds of cocaine (worth millions of dollars) ashore from the MSC Orchestra when it arrived in Dover from Brazil last year.

Last week three Royal Caribbean crew members from the Enchantment of the Seas were arrested smugging drugs into Baltimore.  

As Gadling points out, all the DEA and drug sniffing dogs accomplished during the overblown raid on the Jam Fest cruise was to make sure that there would be no high times on the high seas . . . 

 

Logo credit:  Florida Music Blog

Cruise Crime: Three Crew Drug Arrests and a Closed Passenger Overboard Investigation

Today, two stories broke about cruise ship crimes issues.

The first story involved three Royal Caribbean crew members arrested for trying to smuggle drugs into Baltimore from the Dominican Republic via Royal Caribbean's Enchantment of the Seas cruise ship.   We have written a lot about passengers and crew members using cruise ships to smuggle drugs.  Earlier this year, passengers were busted for smuggling drugs on the Enchantment of the Seas.  Just last October, U.S. Customs officers seized cocaine and heroin aboard another Royal Caribbean cruise ship, the Serenade of the Seas, when the ship was docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

According to the Baltimore Sun, the latest drug deal involved three Royal Caribbean crew members - 35-year-old Gavin Excell and 27-year-olds John Swart Garth and Kishurn Neptune - who picked up heroin and cocaine in the Dominican Republic during a stop of the Royal Caribbean's Enchantment of the Seas.  Law enforcement arrested them after they delivered the drugs to a Walmart after the cruise ship reached Baltimore. The crew members are identified as working in the galley of the cruise ship.

The second story involved the FBI announcing that they have closed the investigation into the Jennifer Ellis-Seitz - Overboard - Cruise Ship - FBIdisappearance of cruise passenger Jennifer Ellis-Seitz, age 36. Ms. Ellis-Seitz went overboard from Norwegian Cruise Line's Pearl on Christmas Day in 2008. 

Two years ago Ms. Ellis-Seitz had cruised on a seven-day trip aboard the NCL cruise ship to celebrate her first wedding anniversary with her husband, Raymond Seitz Jr.,  Her mother also cruised with them.  By the time her husband reported her missing, there was an 8 hour delay. The Sun Sentinel newspaper reports that NCL searched the cruise ship for three hours before calling the U.S. Coast Guard.  A subsequent review of the cruise ship's surveillance video revealed her going overboard from the balcony of the couple's cabin.

There were many accounts in the media of suspicious circumstances surrounding the disappearance, including the NBC Today show carrying a story "Missing Woman’s Husband Acted Odd, Passengers Say."  The FBI was photographed inspecting the balcony where Ms. Ellis-Seitz went overboard.

But like most suspicious disappearances, the FBI investigation went nowhere.

The newspaper indicates that the FBI concluded its investigation with "insufficient evidence to prove any crime was committed," according to FBI agent Michael Leverock.

Cruise Passengers Busted for Drugs on the Serenade of the Seas

U.S. Customs busted four passengers for drugs in two separate incidents this week aboard Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas cruise ship.    

Accordingly to Hispanically Speaking News,  U.S. Customs officers seized cocaine and heroin aboard the Serenade of the Seas when the cruise ship was docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The Customs officers conducted a random inspection of ship cabins. During the search, a K-9 dogs alerted to the smell of narcotics which led the officers to three brick size cocaine packages Serenade of the Seas - Drug Bust - Heroin - Cocainebetween the passenger beds.  The estimated value of the seized cocaine was $84,000. 

In a separate incident, the officers inspected luggage which exposed a large number of shoes that yielded a brown powdery substance. The officers found heroin wrapped in duct tape inside the shoes with a street value over $300,000.

BYM Marine & Maritime News identifies the passengers in the cocaine smuggling incident as U.S. citizens Melinda Ivette Quiñones-Cruz, age 28, and Cristian Gabriel Oquendo-Lopez, 21, and in the heroin arrest Diana Hortencia Latigua-Lorenzo, age 32, a U.S. citizen, and her brother, Breidy Latigua-Lorenzo, 20, a citizen of the Dominican Republic. 

We have written about the dangers posed by using cruise ships to smuggle drugs into the U.S. in prior blogs articles.  Many crew employees we talk to, especially cabin attendants, are frightened of the prospect of discovering drugs in the cabins they are responsible for cleaning, and are concerned with the possibility of retaliation by a passenger or other crew member.

Many of the drug busts are due to random inspections of the cabins.  Other arrests occur after U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers analyze the advanced listing of passengers and crew through APIS, the Advanced Passenger Information System. 

 

Photo credit:   photobucket DeltaBlues2007

Royal Caribbean Passengers Busted For Drugs, Taser Gun in Bermuda

The Royal Gazette newspaper reports that the police in Bermuda arrested two American cruise passengers for a small amount of pot and a Taser gun in their cruise ship cabin. 

Passengers Virginians Kymberly Taylor and Shayla Reid were sailing aboard Royal Caribbean's Enchantment of the Seas.  After the cruise ship arrived in Bermuda, police officers boarded the cruise ship and searched the ladies' cabin.  They found a plastic bag with 6.68 grams of cannabis and a five-inch Taser gun.

The Court in Bermuda fined them $500 each for possessing marijuana, even though it was for their personal use and they did not try to bring the reefer ashore.  Ms. Taylor received an additional $1,000 fine for possession of the Taser gun.

We have reported on drug arrests in Bermuda before.  The island is very strict when it comes to prosecuting U.S. passengers.

Ironically, Bermuda does a deplorable job investigating violent crimes or mysterious disappearances which may implicate cruise ships which fly the flag of Bermuda.  But Bermuda loves busting U.S. passenger for minor drug possession on cruise ships porting in Bermuda.  Take a moment and read about Bermuda's indifference to crimes on Bermuda flagged cruise ships.

The more serious issue is the Taser gun in the cabin.  Its disturbing that the cruise line's security did not detect it. 

 

Interested in this issue?  Consider reading: Cruise Ships & Drug Smuggling  

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Prosecution Drops Manslaughter Charge In Dianne Brimble Case - Trial Over

In a stunning and unexpected end to the trial involving the death of P and O Cruises passenger Dianne Brimble, the prosecution dropped a manslaughter charge against fellow cruise passenger Mark Wilhelm.

Australia's Herald Sun reports that Wilhelm pled guilty to supplying the date rape drug GHB to Ms. Brimble in exchange for being released from the manslaughter charge.

Mark Wilhelm - Dianne BrimbleLast year, a jury reached a split decision.  The jury found that Wilhelm gave Ms. Brimble the drugs which led to her death, but it could not reach a decision on the manslaughter charges.  This led to a hung jury and a decision to re-try the case.   

After the plea agreement was announced, the Brimble family had to endure a lecture by the presiding trial judge.  Justice Roderick Howe stated that although defendant Wilhelm may have been "technically and morally responsible" for Dianne Brimble's cruise ship death, and his behavior may have been "bad, loutish or even insensitive,'' he was not legally responsible for manslaughter. 

The judge then made a number of rather gratuitous comments, criticizing what he characterized as the "prejudice" and "hysteria'' surrounding the death and ensuing events - adding that Wilhelm had been subjected to "rumors, misinformation, supposition and conjecture."

We have written many articles about Ms. Brimble and the outlandish conduct of Mr. Wilhelm and the seven men who cruised with him.  The judge's comments are off the mark as well as being insensitive and disrespectful to the Brimble family.     

Ms. Brimble's family expressed their frustration with the the decision to drop the manslaughter charge.  The Brisbane Times reports that Ms. Brimble's family will seek to reopen the investigation into her death. 

According to the newspapers, Ms. Brimble's former husband, Mark Brimble, said "We're disappointed that it ends this way .  .  .  we are frustrated with the system.''  "I want the coroner to enter into findings . . .  we need to know what has to happen to stop this ever happening to any other individual or Australian traveling on a cruise ship or on a holiday," he said.

"Dianne went on a holiday and didn't come back . . .  that should not happen to a person again."

Wilhelm will be sentenced for supplying the drugs on April 29th.

 

Credits:

Photograph        dailytelegraph.com.au

Cruise Visitors To Jamaica Busted For Drugs

RadioJamaica.com reports that an American and a Serbian were arrested this week in Jamaica on drug charges after cruising to Ocho Rios.  

On Thursday, cruise passenger 37-year-old Brantley Black of South Carolina was reportedly caught with ganja and cocaine after attempting to re-board the cruise ship.  He taken to the Ocho Rios Police Station where he was charged and taken to jail.

On Monday, a Serbian citizen, 30-year-old Tomislav Miprovic, was also arrested after police searched his cabin on a cruise ship which docked in the Ocho Rios.  Several syringes containing heroin were found.  Mr. Miprovic pleaded guilty to possession of heroin, and he was fined $350,000 or six months in prison.  It is less than clear whether he was a passenger or crew member.

The identity of the cruise lines and names of the cruise ships were not identified.  We see this quite often - the local authorities do not wish to embarrass the cruise lines which are vital to the Cruise Ship Drugs - Pot - Cocaine - Heroineconomies of the Caribbean islands.

We have written about drugs on cruise ships in prior blogs:

Cruise Ships & Drug Smuggling

Another Death on a Royal Caribbean - Atlantis Cruise

Microsoft Offered A "Sex and Drugs" Cruise to Distributors?

Cruise Passenger Imprisoned for Smuggling Cocaine

One of the more remarkable cruise drug smuggling stories occurred last year when drug traffickers  used passengers to smuggle cocaine on board trans-Atlantic cruise ships

Women posing as tourists picked up the drugs in South America and hid them in their suitcases with the intention of delivering the drugs once the cruise ship docked in Spain.

 

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Cruise Passenger Imprisoned for Smuggling Cocaine

Cruise Ship DrugsBBC News reports that a cruise passenger was jailed for seven years for smuggling 1.5 kilos of cocaine into the United Kingdom. 

The UK Border Agency arrested cruise passenger Ben Hartland as he disembarked the Black Watch cruise ship in Southampton last November.  He was busted after the custom officers found the drugs in his "rucksack."

BBC News has a less than flattering photo of the young man (left) after he was arrested for drug smuggling.  The cocaine has a street value over $500,000.

He reportedly was paid around $3,000 to smuggle the drugs.  A free cruise and $3,000 to be a "cruise drug mule?"  

We have commented that cruise ships are routinely used by both passengers and crew members to smuggle drugs.  Read our article: "Cruise Ships & Drug Smuggling"

 

Credits:

Photograph    BBC News 

Microsoft Offered A "Sex and Drugs" Cruise to Distributors?

An Israeli business newspaper Globes Online reports on an unusual defense asserted by a Microsoft distributor in litigation pending against it by Microsoft in a business lawsuit pending in Israel. 

Microsoft - 1978 - Party Animals?Microsoft sued one of its distributors, EIM Computerized Technologies Ltd. (EIM), in Tel Aviv after its business relationship with EIM soured.  Microsoft claimed that EIM's refusal to participate in certain unnamed "activities" during a cruise resulted in "displeasure by Microsoft."

EIM recently clarified matters by alleging that its relationship with Microsoft broke down because EIM's employees refused to participate in "sex and drug orgies" on a cruise organized by Microsoft for its Israeli and Turkish distributors.  

And I always underestimated these nerds!

The online IT magazine Channel and Register also covered the story, characterizing the offer of "women for sex on a cruise ship" as an extreme "sales incentive."

We previously wrote about the combination of selling sex and cruises in a prior article "Marketing "Sex at Sea" on Cruise Ships."

The question everyone is wondering: which cruise line was involved?  If you know, please let us know!

 

Credits:

Microsoft photograph   laughingsquid.com

 

Another Death on a Royal Caribbean - Atlantis Cruise

A newspaper in the Cayman Islands is reporting that a 37 year old passenger aboard Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas died during an Atlantis sponsored cruise.

Atlantis - Royal Caribbean - Cruise - DeathThe local newspaper carries the sensational headline: "Body Found On Gay Cruise Ship."  The cruise ship had been chartered by Atlantis Events, which organizes parties for the gay community.

The cruise was billed as the Liberty Gay Cruise - the World's Largest All-Gay Cruise

The local police in the Caymans apparently issued a statement to the effect that "there would appear to be no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death."  This is a ridiculous statement.  Perhaps there is no evidence of a murder, but clearly a death of a 37 year old man healthy enough to go on a vacation cruise is inherently suspicious. 

The Advocate also reports on this latest death.

Previously, we reported on the death of another passenger aboard a Royal Caribbean - Atlantis cruise in October 2009. Spencer Yu, an attorney for Warner Brothers and a board member of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation ("GLAAD"), died on the Mariner of the Seas. There is speculation that Mr. Yu, also a young man of  only 46 years, may have died of a drug overdose during the cruise.

Commenters on the gay community blogs Queerty and JoeMyGod bickered about the use of drugs during Atlantis sponsored events. Whether Mr. Yu's death is drug related is unknown to us.  

It has been our experience that cruise ships are not the place to have a medical emergency, whether you are gay, lesbian, transgendered, or straight.  Cruise ships are often characterized by the questionable experience and training of the shipboard doctors and staff and the limited nature Rich Campbell - Atlantis Events - Gay Cruise - Royal Caribbean - Deathof the ship's medical facilities. Are cruise ships equipped to handle medical emergencies which occur during Atlantis parties?  Does Atlantis discuss the use of drugs and the foreseeable risk of a drug overdose with the cruise line to make certain that there are properly trained medical personnel to respond to emergencies?

The Atlantis cruise parties are organized by Rich Campbell who is quoted in a recent article saying: "There’s no turning back. Once you sail, if you forget something, you’re screwed!" 

There doubtlessly will be speculation regarding the cause of this most recent cruise death and the connection to the Atlantis organization.  Is this recent death just a coincidence to the unfortunate death of Mr. Yu on another Royal Caribbean - Atlantis cruise? 

The skeptic in me says there are no such coincidences in life, or in death. 

 

 

 

Credits:

Newspaper            CompassCayman.com

Rich Campbell       Caribbean Net News "Rainbow Welcome for Gay Cruisers in the Cayman Islands"

Video                      Cayman Islands News 27

Cruise Ships & Drug Smuggling

Cruise ships are routinely used by both passengers and crew members to smuggle drugs.  Two recent newspaper articles from the Royal Gazette in Bermuda point this out.

Today, the newspaper reports that a passenger aboard Norwegian Cruise Line's (NCL) Norwegian Dawn was sentenced to seven years in prison in Bermuda for smuggling 5,048 grams of marijuana, with a street value of $252,000. 

Drug smuggling - cruise shipsU.S. passenger Anthony Issac brought the drugs to the Island in a suitcase aboard the NCL cruise ship.  A  "friend" of his paid him $10,000 to go on vacation and to drop the suitcase off in Bermuda.  The NCL passenger, a 34 year-old truck driver from the Bronx, apologized to the court in Bermuda.  He explained that he smuggled the reefer because he was "experiencing financial problems and  thought the money would help."

A couple of months ago, the Royal Gazette reported that a NCL cruise ship employee was jailed  for attempting to import more than $12,000 worth of cannabis into Bermuda. Crew member, Elroy Bent Brackman from Columbia, was offered $500 to import the drug while working aboard NCL cruise ship Norwegian Dawn. He had been caught smoking weed in his cabin, which led to a search.  

Like the NCL passenger, the crew member claims that he given $500 in New York if he would bring smuggle the marijuana on the cruise ship.  The court in Bermuda sentenced him to two-and-a-half years' in jail.

Drugs on cruise ships In November 2006, another NCL crew member Teeteta Lereria was sentenced to five years after trying to smuggle cannabis and heroin valued at more than $311,000 into Bermuda. She was employed as a cleaner aboard NCL's Norwegian Spirit.

Many of the crew members, particularly "cleaners" who do not earn tips, earn as little as $535 a month.  Working as much as 85 hours a week, their wages turn out to be less than $1.60 an hour.  Whereas this does not  justify criminal conduct, low wage employees are susceptible to being used as drug mules.  

The presence of drugs on cruise ships, particularly smuggled by the crew, raises a concern of violence between crew members.  This problem may also be behind the "disappearance" of crew members over the years - stories which have largely been ignored by the U.s. media. 

A search of the Royal Gazette's archives reveals that many passengers have also been arrested or fined for bringing marijuana into Bermuda. 

October 26, 2009 Update:

The Bermuda Royal Gazette reports today that another NCL passenger was busted for pot.  This time it was aboard NCL's cruise ship, Norwegian Majesty.  A Bermuda Customs sniffer dog found 12 joints of marijuana during a search of the cruise ship, while the ship was in port in St. George's.

The cruise passenger is an American, Frank Brazinski from Pennsylvania.  The joints were discovered in the passenger's luggage inside his cabin.  Not sure I understand how this resulted in a charge of importing drugs into Bermuda. The passenger pled guilty.