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 article 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.