The federal police in Australia report that its law enforcement officers and the Australia border protection agency seized thirty (30) kilos of cocaine stashed aboard an unidentified cruise ship which docked in Sydney on November 30, 2017.  Four passengers were arrested on the ship and escorted from the cruise ship – a 41-year-old Belgian woman and three French nationals, including a 61-year-old man, a 54-year-old man and a 32-year-old woman.

The Australian Federal Police and Australian Border Force released a multimedia news release titled No Sooth Sailing for International Cocaine Syndicate, with photographs of the drugs and the suspects. The release did not identify the name of the cruise line or cruise ship.

The cruise ship originated in the United Kingdom. The arrests took place after a joint operation between the Australian Border Force and their counterparts in United Kingdom.

The Australian authorities have been successful making drug busts on cruise ships entering the ports in Sydney. Last year, authorities seized 95 kilos of cocaine that three passengers smuggled on a Princess cruise ship (the Sea Princess).  The question arises whether smuggling anywhere from 30 to 100 kilos of drugs aboard a cruise ship must involve help from crew members.  Given the use of screening equipment on cruise ships, some people M/S Astor - Cruise and Maritime Voyagesquestion 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.

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Hat tip to Crew Center where I first learned of the drug bust.

Update: The cruise ship where the drug bust occured is the M/S Astor, operated by Cruise & Maritime Voyages, according to several individuals familiar with the cruise ports in Austrralia. The Astor was docked at the White Bay Cruise Terminal at the time of the drug sizure and arrests.

Photo credit: Australian Government (top and bottom); Bahnfrend – CC BY-SA 4.0, commons / wikimedia (M/S Astor).

Cruise Ship Drug Bust - Sydney

 

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.

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. 

Drug busts on NCL cruise ships have been big news for the past month.

First there was the arrest of five galley workers on the Norwegian Sun who were apprehended in Tampa when they smuggled 7 kilos of cocaine from Roatan.

Two of the arrested NCL ship employees were from St. Lucia along with two crew members from Grenada and one employee from St. Vincent. Read article here

Then came the arrest last week of another NCL crew member, a Nicaraguan,  who worked in the galley of the Norwegian Dawn and tried to smuggle cocaine aboard when the cruise ship was docked in Roatan.

Since then, I heard that there were 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 crew members from Nicaragua have been arrested with cocaine in the last several weeks.St. Lucia Cruise Ship

But there’s a downside to the arrests. Some crew members are innocent and yet they get fired by the cruise line and put on the do-not-enter-the-U.S. list of U.S. immigration. 

A reader of Cruise Law News sent this story about a crew member from St. Lucia who worked about the Norwegian Pearl. He was arrested on suspicion of smuggling drugs. But then he was released and another crew member was arrested instead.

NCL didn’t permit him to keep working. In fact, he was fingerprinted, his U.S. tourist and seaman’s visas were canceled, he was blacklisted from the U.S., and then was given a one-way flight back home.

We are often contacted in these type of cases. Unfortunately, maritime law is extremely unfavorable to crew members. Cruise lines can hire and fire crew members for good reason, bad reason or no reason at all. The U.S. government can act even more arbitrarily and capriciously than the cruise lines. Low level customs agents yield incredible power to ruin the lives of hard working young men from the Caribbean. 

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Photo Credit: St. Lucia Times 

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 

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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The El Universal newspaper in Caracas reports that three people carrying 20 kilos of cocaine were arrested trying to smuggle the drugs aboard the Horizon cruise ship while in port in Margarita Island in Venezuela. 

The Horizon is currently in operation by French cruise line CDF Croisières de France. The articles, however, erroneously state that the Horizon is still operated as part of the Pullmantur Cruise Line.

Another newspaper says that the ship was heading to the Dominican Republic with 1,600 passengers and 600 crew, when the authorities found 108 bundles of wrapped cocaine. 

Cruise Drug BustCruise passengers Andreina López Ramírez (26), Mercedes Salazar Benzaquén (22) and Arnaldo Salazar Rosas (34) reportedly intending to smuggle the drugs but a drug dog sniffed the cocaine out at the port terminal. 

The authorities were dispatched to the homes of the suspects where they "found lots of marijuana."

Last April crew members aboard a Pullmantur cruise ship, the M/S Empress, owned by Royal Caribbean, were arrested in a Brazilian port for smuggling 100 pounds of cocaine.

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Photo credit and hat tip: Crew Center: 20 Kilos Cocaine Found on Cruise Ship,

Ishermon Tafari - Carnival Srug Smuggling - CocaineNews sources are reporting that a Carnival cruise passenger was busted at Port Canaveral with 12 pounds of cocaine in his suitcase after returning from a Caribbean cruise. 

The Orlando Sentinel says that Ishermon Tafari, age 31, from the country of Granada, was arrested over the weekend when federal officers entered his cabin on the Carnival Liberty cruise ship.

The officers had obtained arrest and search warrants in Orlando federal court before the cruise ship returned to port. 

When the officers searched the passenger’s cabin, they found powder laundry detergent poured onto clothes at the bottom of Tafari’s luggage. Approximately 12 pounds of cocaine were inside the lining of the luggage.

WFTV reports that the cruise ship made stops in Turks and Caicos, Aruba and Curacao before returning to Port Canaveral.

Investigators are looking to see if Tafari is part of a bigger smuggling operation, after discovering that he sent a text to a friend while on the trip saying, "I’m on a mission [same one, different island]."

Photo Credit:  Orlando Sentinel  

The Nassau Tribune reports on a criminal hearing last weekend in the Bahamas after five cruise ship passengers from two different ship were arrested for possessing small amounts of marijuana.  The five passengers each had between one and five grams of pot. I’m told that’s enough pot for a couple of joints.

A 28 year old from Leesburg, Florida was apprehended by the Chief of Security on the Royal Caribbean Enchantment of the Seas with 1 gram of pot. The ship’s security invited the Bahamian police onto the Enchantment and handed the joint and the passenger over. The Magistrate filed him Pot Bahamas$500 and threatened that if he didn’t pay the fine immediately he would throw him in jail, adding “and unlike US prisons, our prisons are not as hospitable.” 

A 27 year old man from Sarasota, Florida was arrested after he bought 2 grams of pot ashore in downtown Nassau. He arrived in Nassau on the Royal Caribbean Adventure of the Seas. The Magistrate fined him $500 as well, telling him "some countries in Asia can carry a punishment as severe as death."

A 60 year old woman on the Enchantment of the Seas was arrested with 5 grams of pot. The magistrate filed her $800, stating (and I quote): "It is a shock that individuals at this age would be engaging in such illegal activities.” 

A 61 year old man from Fort Meyers on an unspecified cruise ships was arrested after the cruise ship turned him over to the Bahamian police with 5 grams of pot. He received a $800 fine.

The last pothead was a 37 year old who bought 2 grams for $50 at the straw market. The stoner told the judge “I was walking around the straw market. I was drinking. I had like two rums that morning . . " The judge was unimpressed and threatened him with a three month jail sentence if he didn’t pay $500 right away.  

It never ceases to amaze me that cruise lines like Royal Caribbean make hundreds of millions of dollars pushing booze on their ships to the point that the passenger are knee-walking-and-puking drunk, but a cruise ship security officer will collar a guest for a single joint and turn them over to the police. 

The double standard also applies to the Bahamas where pot dealers canvas the port and sell pot up and down Bay Street and in and around every bar in town. One of the chief complaints we hear from Crime Nassau Bahamascruise passengers sailing to Nassau is that they are constantly harassed by the local citizens to buy pot the second they step off the cruise ship and walk into town.  

The Bahamas has one of the highest crime rates in the world. It lets child predators go free, it has a deplorable record solving crimes on Bahamian-flagged cruise ships, and it is clueless when it comes to solving murders and violent crimes against tourists

Nabbing cruise tourists with a joint or two, and teaming up with the cruise lines to pull passengers off the ship with small amounts of pot while Bahamians are openly selling the stuff at the straw market, are duplicitous revenue collecting exercises.

The Bahamas is one gunshot away from losing the cruise lines. It needs to concentrate its limited resources on protecting its citizens and visitors from armed bad guys and not hassle the tourists who bring money into its impoverished country. 

 

Photo Credit: Vibe (top); Nassau Tribune April 9 2014 newspaper – Tribune.

Newspapers in Palm Beach Country are reporting that a 30-year-old crew member is facing drug charges after U.S. Customs and Border Protection authorities say he smuggled cocaine and heroin from the Bahamas on the Bahamas Celebration cruise ship.

The Bahamas Celebration is operated by the Celebration Cruise Line and cruises between the Port of Palm Beach and Freeport, Bahamas.

A crew member, identified as Adrian Bradley Trench, was arrested last Thursday on charges of Bahamas Celebration Cruise Shipimporting more than 500 grams of cocaine and more than 100 grams of heroin. Crew member Trench had left the cruise ship after it arrived at the Port of Palm Beach from Freeport. When federal immigration officers asked Trench for his immigration forms, the crew member reportedly tried to run back to the cruise ship.

The officers apprehended him and noticed two packages wrapped around Trench’s calves, containing 1,043 grams of cocaine (about 2.25 pounds) and 674 grams of heroin (about 1.5 pounds). 

Drug smuggling from the Bahamas is not uncommon. Last Spring, we reported on two incidents where a crew member and a passenger were arrested for smuggling large quantities of cocaine from the Bahamas into the same port. Read Another Drug Bust on the Bahamas Celebration.

 

Photo Credit: thebahamasweekly.com