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.
Bernews 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.
Miami: 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.