Police in Belize Arrest Three NCL Crew Members for Smuggling Cocaine

Norwegian Escape7 News Belize reports that three NCL crew members were arrested in Belize for possession of two kilos of cocaine which was picked up in Roatan and taken on an unidentified NCL cruise ship to the private destination of Harvest Caye, apparently with the intention of being smuggled into the U.S.  The news stations says that:

The police have not released any official information, but 7News has learned that 3 employees of Norwegian Cruise Lines were charged with drug trafficking for allegedly being in possession of two kilos of cocaine on a cruise ship. Our information is that the 3 men are now arrested and charged, and they are at the Belize Central Prison.

Reports are that the men, 2 nationals of St. Lucia and 1 from St. Vincent, arrived on last Tuesday, on an NCL ship which made a port of call at the Harvest Caye Island getaway. The men worked on the Ship. Reports say that the two kilos may have been picked up in Roatan.

The men were arrested, and charged, and they were arraigned in Magistrate's Court. They are now at the Belize Central Prison.

Smuggling cocaine is big business on the high seas. Two years ago, five NCL crew members on the Norwegian Sun were arrested in Tampa when the cruise ship returned from Roatan where the crew members picked up the drugs. The Tampa Bay Times reported that they worked for NCL as utility workers in the Norwegian Sun's galley.

A few months later, a NCL crew member employed aboard the Norwegian Dawn cruise ship was arrested when he attempted to smuggle cocaine aboard the ship when it was docked in Roatan.

Last year, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has busted a cocaine smuggling operation where NCL crew members smuggled cocaine from Honduras to New Orleans aboard NCL's Norwegian Dawn cruise ship.

The article did not identify the NCL cruise ship involved in this latest smuggling caper, although it is believed to be the Norwegian Escape.

Costa and Princess crew members were recently arrested in cocaine smuggling schemes using cruise ships.

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June 21, 2017 Update: The newspaper in Belize identified the NCL crew members: Derson Frank, from St. Vincent; Renaldo Roberts, also from St. Vincent; and Jamal Celise of St. Lucia.

Photo credit: Arno Redenius - CC BY-SA 4.0, commons / wikimedia.

Drug Mules Used Costa Cruise Ships to Smuggle Cocaine

For a two year period from 2012 to 2014, as many as thirty-four people who posed as cruise ship passengers on Costa ships participated in a smuggling network that transported hashish from Morocco to Brazil and cocaine from South America to Europe, according to the The Local newspaper in France.

The French newspaper reported that the "innovative and audacious" international drug smuggling ring consisted of nearly three dozen "low-level 'mules' who came from the same working class area of the city of Nice" and strapped the drugs to their bodies and carried the hash and cocaine on and off Costa cruise ships.

The drug carriers are on trial in France for smuggling the drugs between several continents. The Costa Cruise Shipsarticle says that the cruise staff on the cruise ships wondered what these young people were doing on cruises "if they were not accompanying their grandparents.”  

The article also mentioned that the the ill-fated Costa Concordia was reportedly carrying a huge shipment of Mafia-owned cocaine when she sank in January 2012.

We previously reported that several people were arrested with over 16 kilos of cocaine while disembarking the Costa Pacifica in Malaga following a Transatlantic cruise from South America several years ago.

The use of cruise ships to smuggle cocaine is a subject which we have reported on many times over the last couple of years. A few examples: 

There was a major drug bust (15 kilos) aboard the Splendor of the Seas in Buenos Aires in 2015. The Royal Caribbean cruise ship was heading to Brazil and then Europe.

In the same year, five men were caught trying to smuggle 26 kilos aboard the MSC Magnifica in São Paulo.

Three passengers were busted on a Princess cruise ship, the Sea Princess, last August of 2016, for smuggling over 209 pounds of cocaine.   

Just two weeks ago, three Princess crew members on the Island Princess were nabbed in Vancouver for smuggling five kilos of cocaine into Canada.

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Photo credit: Abxbay CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia.

Cocaine-Smuggling Princess Crew Members Escape Jail Time

Osland Princess Crew MembersCanadian news stations have identified the three crew members from the Island Princess who were arrested last week for smuggling drugs into Vancouver, as we mentioned in a prior article

CTV News Vancouver identified three Nicaraguan crew members, Willard Murray Brooks (age 28), Emil Hebbert Garth (age 26) and Jason West Carter, (age 32) who were recruited by a Colombian drug cartel to smuggle 10 kilograms of cocaine onto the Island Princess when it docked in Cartagena. The Princess cruise ship later called on Vancouver on May 11th after sailing to Panama and, later, to Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Once the  ship docked in Vancouver, CTV reports that the three crew members smuggled five kilograms of cocaine to a shore-side food court where an unidentified man met them and later paid US$30,000 for the drugs. The men reportedly tucked the cash into their underwear before heading back to the cruise ship. Canadian Border Services found the undeclared cash when the drug mules went through screening. A Vancouver police canine unit and the Canadian Border Services then searched the men's cabins where they reportedly located an additional amount of cocaine.

The men did not dispute the charges. CTV reports the dcrew members "also said they did not fear a return to their home country of Nicaragua, where they are expected to be flown within seven days. CBSA will hold Princess Cruise Lines responsible for the travel costs."

No explanation was provided by CTV why the drug smugglers did not face jail time in Canada. It is doubtful that the three crew members will face any charges once they have been returned home.  

A one-way ticket home to Nicargua for the crew members to be paid by Princess Cruises is hardly a deterrent to international drug smuggling.

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Video and photo credit: CTV Canada Vancouver

 

Drug Bust Reveals Flaws in Cruise Ship Security

Cruise Ship Drug BustThe widely reported drug bust of three passengers this week on the Sea Princess cruise ship in Australia uncovered serious shortcomings in Princess Cruises' shipboard security.  

We have written about dozens of drug busts of relatively small quantities of cocaine on cruise ships over the years.  But 95 kilos (over 209 lbs.!) of cocaine seems to be hard to believe.  Many people have expressed their opinions that this must have been an inside job (we have no proof of this), given the use of screening equipment on cruise ships.  But some people have questioned whether the drugs were loaded onto the ship along with food and provisions and then transferred to the passengers to be smuggled off the ship in their luggage.

If the shipboard security team wasn't involved, they obviously need to enforce far better protocols to carefully screen baggage and items brought onboard the ship.    

IHS Fairplay published an article today saying that the drug bust "highlights the ability for more sinister items to be smuggled onto vessels."  In an article titled Drugs Find Highlights Cruise Security Threat, Fairplay says that "cruise companies were taking, and continue to take, security seriously but that the incident had to act as a wake-up call to revisit current systems." It quoted Gerry Northwood, a principal of the international maritime security company MAST, explaining that cruise passengers don't face the Cruise Ship Drug Bustsame restrictions as air travelers.

Northwood also warns that "If a terrorist were to secrete an explosive device inside a consignment of food, it is possible that the explosion would likely happen below the water line with obvious implications for the vessel and the safety of the passengers and crew.”

Commander Mark Gaouette, the former security head of Cunard and Princess Cruises, said in an interview today that the cruise industry should be concerned with the possibility of a terrorist group masterminding a gigantic conflagration on a ship. He cites the 2004 attack by an Islamic terrorist group which planted just eight kilograms of TNT in a cardboard box aboard the Superferry 14 in the Philippines.  The resulting fire and explosion killed over a hundred passengers and sank the ferry. 

Commander Gaouette is the author of Cruising for Trouble, Cruise Ships As Soft Targets for Pirates, Terrorists and Common Criminals

Photo credit: Top - Department of Immigration and Border Protection via Sydney Morning Herald; bottom - Jonathan Ng via the Daily Telegraph.  

 

U.S. State Department Warns that Crime in Honduras Remains Critically High

The U.S. State Department yesterday updated its travel advisory to Honduras, stating that the level of kidnapping, crime, and violence in Honduras remains "critically high." (this warning supersedes the last warning in October 2015). 

The warning states that "criminal activity is a serious problem throughout the country and the Government of Honduras lacks sufficient resources to properly respond to, investigate, and prosecute cases. As a result, criminals operate with a high degree of impunity throughout Honduras."

Honduras has one of the highest murder rates in the world (it's homicide rate was 60 per 100,000 in 2015; in comparison, the U.S. rate is around 4.5 per 100,000). The warning further states that the U.S. Embassy recorded 37 murders of U.S. citizens since 2011, with three recorded since January 2016.

Cruise Roatan

Many tourist-dependent businesses and U.S. and Canadian expatriates on Roatan claim that the island is generally safe. The hotels, resorts, bars and dive-shops advertise Roatan as an idyllic, tropical, get-a-way vacation paradise. The State Department warning acknowledges that the islands are generally safer than the mainland of Honduras, but the crime is still higher than what most U.S. passengers would face at home.  The warning contains specific warning about Roatan:

"Roatan & Bay Islands: Roatan and the Bay Islands experience lower crime rates than the Honduran mainland. While the national government of Honduras, Roatan authorities, and businesses took measures in 2014 to improve tourism security, thefts, break-ins, assaults, rapes, and murders do occur. You should exercise caution, especially at night. If staying at a hotel resort, book tours and sightseeing through the resort or reputable tour companies. Coxen Hole on the island of Roatan should be avoided after dark.

If you are on a shore excursion from a cruise ship, take care to book only with reputable tour companies during your stopover in Honduras. The port agencies at Mahogany Bay and Towne Center have worked to improve taxi service to and from the ports."

The warning's refers to 2014 because a NCL crew member was shot and killed near the port that year. The Filipino crew member worked on the Norwegian Pearl. Previously in 2014, a number of tourists, including a mother and her two boys from a Royal Caribbean ship, were robbed at gunpoint while taking a private trip to the beach. Earlier in 2014, a family in a rental car with their three children vacationing on a Carnival cruise ship stopping in Roatan were shot at and robbed.  

One of the problems with Honduras is it is a key player in the international drug trade. The warning explains that "transnational criminal organizations conduct narcotics trafficking and other unlawful activities throughout the country and use violence to control drug trafficking routes and carry out criminal activity."

Roatan has long been considered one of Honduras' "narco-islands."

There have been several instances where crew members from Honduras have been arrested trying to smuggle drugs on cruise ships, like this arrest in Roatan of a NCL crew member from the Norwegian Dream last year. Last year also saw five NCL galley workers from the Norwegian Sun arrested in Tampa when the cruise returned from Roatan where the crew members picked up cocaine. In 2014, police officers in Brazil arrested several Honduran crew members after finding 333 bags of cocaine weighing 100 pounds on the M/S Empress, owned by Royal Caribbean and operated at the time by the Royal Caribbean brand Pullmantur.   

Roatan has been home to a notorious list of major drug intermediaries who launder money by purchasing properties on the island. Members of the “Los Cachiros“ drug trafficking ring were arrested and numerous properties in Roatan were seized several years ago.  In 2014, a drug trafficker with connections to Colombia, Carlos Arnoldo Lobo, alias "El Negro, was arrested and millions of dollars in bank accounts and numerous of his properties in Roatan were seized.   Earlier this year, Mexican drug kingpin El Chapo's' "Honduras henchman" Franco "The Wizard" Daniel Lombardi, the financial operator of the Sinaloa Cartel in Honduras, was arrested and many of his properties in Roatan were seized.

The January 2014 New York Times article Security Concerns on a Honduran Island indicates that the U.S. State Department has warned since at least December 2013 that the “level of crime and violence in Honduras remains critically high.” 

If you travel or cruise to Roatan, the Times' article suggests visitors:

  • not to walk alone on the stretch of beach between West Bay and West End;
  • avoid unpaved roads to the beach; 
  • avoid Coxen Hole after dark; and
  • stick to the island’s main road unless you're with a group.

Photo credit: Jim Walker

Four Cruise Passengers Busted for Cocaine Smuggling

WFTV-9 (ABC) reports that four women were arrested on charges of smuggling cocaine weighing a little over 6.5 kilograms at Port Canaveral last month after taking a cruise on Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas.  

The local ABC news station identified Lakisha Abney, Shawnta Aiken, Ciera Bryant and Shenique Milbourne as cruise passengers who departed on a seven-night Western Caribbean cruise last month. When the Royal Caribbean cruise ship arrived back at Port Canaveral on May 15, U.S. Customs officials reportedly Falmouth Jamaica Freedom of the Seasdiscovered five vacuum sealed packages of cocaine in Ms. Bryant' bra and girdle. 

The Customs officials searched Ms. Bryant after noticing that her voice and hands were shaking and she was not making eye contact. The officials then searched Ms. Abney, Ms. Aiken and Ms. Milbourne who Ms. Bryant identified as her traveling companions. The officials reportedly found several vacuum-sealed packages containing cocaine in each of the women’s bras and girdles.

The four women from the Washington D.C. and Maryland area are seen on Facebook posing for what appears to be a fun cruise.

The cruise in question called on Labadee Haiti, Falmouth Jamaica, George Town Grand Cayman and Cozumel Mexico. WPTV said that "while in Jamaica, the women met a man who gave them the cocaine and the bras and girdle to hide the drugs in." 

In April, WFTV reported that two Royal Caribbean crew members were arrested for smuggling cocaine aboard the Freedom of the Seas into Port Canaveral.

October 20, 2016 Update: One of the four women who pleaded guilty was sentenced to eight years in prison.

Photo credit: Shawnta Aiken Facebook page.

Story and video credit: WFTV-8 (ABC) 

December 15, 2016 Update: A fifth woman has been implicated in the drug smuggling.

Cocaine Bust: Three Crew Members Arrested in Ocho Rios, Jamaica

The Jamaica Observer reports that yesterday the police in Ocho Rios arrested three crew members aboard an unidentified cruise ship docked at the Ocho Rios Pier with a large quantity of cocaine hidden under their clothes. 

The three men were reportedly from St. Vincent. The newspaper identified the men, Lloyd Thomas (40 years old), Dasrick Moore (age 24) and Kishorn Simon (age 25). 

The newspaper says that the police stopped the three crew members when they were in the process of boarding the cruise ship. All three men reportedly had cocaine hidden in their underwear.

The combined weight of the cocaine reportedly is approximately five pounds. 

Ten days ago, a NCL crew member from St. Vincent, who worked aboard the Norwegian Sun, was sentenced to ten years in prison after he was caught smuggling cocaine from Roatan to Tampa along with five other crew members. 

We have not yet determined which cruise ships the three crew members were working on. 

NCL Crew Member Sentenced to 10 Years in Jail for Smuggling Cocaine

On Friday, a federal court judge sentenced a former Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) crew member to ten years in prison for his involvement in smuggling drugs from Roatan, Honduras to Tampa, Florida, according to a press release issued by the Department of Justice

Desrick Gordon, age 23, from the country of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine. The judge ordered him to forfeit $53,369, which is proceeds of the crime. A jury found Mr. Gordon guilty on December 16, 2015.

As we reported last April, Mr. Gordon and five other NCL crew members from the Norwegian Sun were arrested after they reportedly transported packages filled of cocaine from Roatan, Honduras to the U.S. When the cruise ship docked in Tampa, the crew members handed the drugs to local drug traffickers with ties to the Honduran source.  Federal agents seized 10 packages of cocaine with a total weight of more than 7.5 kilograms. 

The other NCL cruise ship employees, Jason Carmichael, Teffan Delice, Johnson Cherubin, Alfred Ince, and Arkine John, previously pleaded guilty for their roles in the case. 

We reported on the initial arrest here - NCL Crew Members Arrested for Smuggling Cocaine from Roatan to Tampa. You can see photo of the crew members here.

 

 

Feds Bust Roatan-New Orleans Cruise Ship Cocaine Plot

The New Orleans Advocate reports that a branch of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has busted a cocaine smuggling operation where crew members smuggled cocaine from Honduras to New Orleans aboard Norwegian Cruise Line's (NCL) Norwegian Dawn cruise ship. 

The drug bust took place last Sunday. On line AIS tracking sites show that the Norwegian Dawn is now cruising to countries in the Caribbean / Central America, having recently left the Honduran cruise port of Roatan which is in the Bay Islands. 

Earlier this year, NCL crew members have been busted before trying to smuggle drugs into the U.S. from Norwegian DawnRoatan. Five NCL crew members on the Norwegian Sun were arrested in Tampa when the cruise ship returned from Roatan where the crew members picked up the drugs. One crew member was recently convicted and the other 4 pled guilty. 

The Norwegian Dawn was last mentioned in our article last year about a NCL Nicaraguan galley worker, tried to board the Dawn with a package of cocaine hidden under his clothes. The ship's security discovered the drugs and reported the incident to the national police, who arrested the crew member.  

The NCL cruise ship drug smuggling stories last year then reportedly involved widespread arrests of NCL crew members on the Epic as well as some on the Sun. Several NCL crew members have told me that as many as 20 NCL crew members from Nicaragua were arrested with cocaine in April last year. 

You can read about the latest NCL drug bust at the New Orlean Advocate in an article by Jim Mustian. The article mention five arrests: Asbert Lowmans, Jean Louis, Esias Felicien, Kevin John, and Alfred Dennison. The first four men appear to crew members. The last, Mr. Dennison identified as being from Jamaica, is alleged to have met with the crew member to buy the drugs. 

Photo Credit: Norwegian Dawn by Fletcher6 licensed under CC BY 4.0 via Commons / Wikipedia.

Mafia Drugs Hidden Aboard Doomed Costa Concordia

Costa Concordia The Independent reports that the Costa Concordia was carrying a "huge shipment of Mafia-owned cocaine" when it departed on its final voyage, according to investigators. 

The dramatic story involves tape recordings of gang member communications which revealed that a Calabrian crime syndicate called Ndrangheta had hidden cocaine hidden aboard the Concordia, when it capsized in January 2012, as part of the organization's vast cocaine-trafficking enterprise. Police investigators say that the drugs were likely stowed aboard the cruise ship by crew members.

Shortly after the January 2012 deadly accident involving the Concordia, an analysis of strands of Schettino’s hair tested positive for cocaine. Costa issued a statement:: "On board our ships there are strict safety and surveillance measures concerning drugs possession . . . It is not allowed in any way to bring on board, possess, trade or use narcotics, drugs or psychotropic drugs."

Just two days ago, Crew-Center reported that three people were arrested with over 16 kilos of cocaine while disembarking the Costa Pacifica in Malaga following a Transatlantic cruise from South America.

In addition to vessels operated by Costa Cruises, the police investigation says that the drug cartel also transported drugs on cruise ships "owned by MSC and Norwegian Cruise Lines, which travel between Europe, North America and the Caribbean."

Last week, I wrote about a major drug bust (15 kilos) aboard the Splendor of the Seas in Buenos Aires. The Royal Caribbean cruise ship was heading to Brazil and then Europe. 

A couple of days later, 5 men were caught trying to smuggle 26 kilos aboard the MSC Magnifica in São Paulo.  

We have written about many hundreds of kilos of cocaine seized during drug busts on cruise ship over the years.

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Photo Credit: ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty 

Argentinian Police Bust Royal Caribbean Crew Members with 15 Kilos of Cocaine

The Merco Press and Crew Center reports that Argentinian Police arrested two Royal Caribbean crew crew members on the Splendour of the Seas cruise ship for trying to smuggle cocaine to sell in Europe. The cruise ship was anchored in the port of Buenos Aires.

The crew members had taped the coke to their bodies. They had also hidden the drugs in a backpack.

The Splendour Of The Seas had arrived in Buenos Aires on last Monday from Punta del Este. it was Splendour of the Seas - Cocaine Smugglingscheduled to leave for Brazil and then sail to Europe. After the arrest of the two crew members, customs officials searched their cabins and other locations on the ship with 8 narcotics dogs and 20 inspectors and found additional cocaine for a total of 15.8 kilos.

The crew members, who were not identified, were a Croatian and a Chilean traveling on an Australian passport.

The drugs were worth approximately one million euros.

Drug smuggling on cruise ship is big business. So far this year alone, crew members have been busted for smuggling over 43 kilos of cocaine. In January, three cruise passengers were arrested on the Horizon with 20 kilos. Earlier this month, five crew members tried to smuggle 7 kilos drugs on the Norwegian Sun from Roatan to Tampa. 

Drug busts on Royal Caribbean ships are common. The company claims that drugs on its ships are "rare," that's hardly true. 140 pounds of cocaine were found in two drug busts on Royal Caribbean cruise ships (Grandeur and Enchantment) in Jamaica.

Royal Caribbean seems more interested in catching passengers who try to smuggle a bottle of wine aboard, than intercepting large quantities of cocaine smuggled by their own employees.

Read: Cruise line crew members busted yet again.

Photo Credit: Merco Press

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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. 

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

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."

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.

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  

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.

 

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?
 

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

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

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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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 

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.