The local police in Madeira arrested a dozen people after the police boarded a cruise ship at port in Funchal for involvement in smuggling cocaine weighing around 18 kilograms and worth two million pounds (£) aboard a cruise ship operated by MSC.  The police were assisted by Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA).

The police detained twelve people when the MSC Opera cruise ship docked at Funchal on March 24th after sailing from the from the Caribbean, according to the Telegraph newspaper. The MSC ship had previously sailed from Havana (Cuba), Montego Bay (Jamaica), George Town (Grand Cayman), Cozumel (Mexico), Philipsburg (St. Maarten), and St. Johns (Antigua) before crossing the Atlantic.

The cocaine had reportedly been hidden in “crisp” packets (a/k/a bags of chip) which had been stashed in suitcases.

The police arrested six passengers on the cruise ship after it travelled from the Caribbean to Madeira. The other six individuals who were arrested include two Britons and a Dutch national in London, who had  recently travelled to Madeira, where it is believed that they would meet the ship when it docked, according to the Telegraph.

Recent Cruise Drug Busts

The last drug bust on a cruise ship sailing from the Caribbean to Europe occurred in December of 2018 on the Marco Polo, a 425-cabin cruise ship operated by Cruise and Maritime Voyages, and involved two British passengers who were arrested for smuggling around 9 or 10 kilos of cocaine.

Recent drug busts include an Oceania crew member who was arrested at Port of Miami for smuggling cocaine  when the Riviera called at port in Miami on January 2, 2019.

Later in January, Mexican authorities reportedly discovered an undisclosed amount of cocaine aboard the MSC Divina while the cruise ship was in port in Cozumel, Mexico. Six packets of cocaine were discovered inside of a compartment behind a toilet in an undisclosed location on the MSC cruise ship.

MSC Cruise Drug Busts

The last drug bust on a MSC cruise ship occured in November of 2018, when United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers arrested seven MSC crew members for smuggling cocaine into the port of Miami aboard the MSC SeasideCBP officers reportedly found six kilos of cocaine and over $100,000 in cash.

There have been other drug busts involving both passengers and crew members involving MSC cruise ships in the past.

In 2010, eight people were convicted of attempting to smuggle over 75 pounds of cocaine (worth many millions of dollars) ashore from the MSC Orchestra when it arrived in Dover from Brazil.

In January of 2011, the U.S. Marshals Service, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Broward Sheriff’s Office with K-9 dogs raided the MSC Poesia at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale before it sailed and arrested a number of music fans on its Jam Fest cruise for a relatively small quantity of recreational drugs.

In August of 2013, police arrested two crew members from the cruise ship MSC Magnífica, which docked in Spain, on drug trafficking charges after they were caught with 15 kilos of cocaine on the cruise ship.

In November of 2013, a MSC crew member was implicated in a scheme to import ten kilos of cocaine from South America to Italy on the cruise ship MSC Armonia.

In March of 2014, the police in Brazil arrested a crew member on the cruise ship MSC Preziosa for smuggling cocaine.

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Photo Credit: Cocaine, Crisps and the MSC Opera – Telegraph newspaper.