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

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

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