January 28, 2003
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency is announcing yet another bust -- five Jamaican nationals who work on cruise ships -- but who moonlight as organizers of a cruise crew drug ring. The effort is thought to have resulted in the illegal smuggling of about 60 pounds of cocaine -- worth, according to somewhat inflated “street prices” about $6 million. The DEA refused to identify the cruise ship or ships. The cocaine traveled routes involving Jamaica, Key West, Miami and Port Everglades. These arrests are part of a two-year effort by the DEA to crack down on illegal drug smuggling on cruise vessels. While this time, the bustees’ particular cruise line affiliations are being kept mum, there have been a fairly wide ranging series of arrests in the past couple of years. Most have focused on crew. For instance: Last year, a crew member on Norwegian’s Norway was arrested in Miami when customs officers discovered he was “wearing” two kilos of heroin. In 2001, three Disney Magic crew members were snared when they passed through customs in Port Canaveral with 6.5 pounds of cocaine taped to their legs. But -- while crew members have been under-the-microscope in this latest effort, passengers have also been snared. In one case, a handful of travelers, whose cruises were paid for by a smuggling operation, picked up drugs in Jamaica and stowed them in luggage or taped them to their bodies before they disembarked. In another -- perhaps unrelated -- incident, two passengers on Norwegian Cruise Lines’ Norwegian Majesty were arrested in Bermuda for cocaine possession. Wire services, which reported that the arrests were made on board the ship while docked in St. George, say that charges included possession with intent to supply as well as, for one of them, conspiring to import cocaine.