Tampa Law Enforcement Busts Noordam Passengers

February 19, 2004

When Holland America’s Noordam docked at the Port of Tampa yesterday following a 14-night Southern Caribbean cruise, law enforcement officers -- acting on a tip -- arrested eight passengers for drug smuggling in what is the second largest seizure of heroin in Florida history. According to reports from the Associated Press, the passengers were trying to sneak in 124 pounds of heroin, sewn into clothes, hidden in shoe heels, and tucked away in aerosol cans and a camera. Also seized were 500 small bricks of pure, un-cut cocaine -- 44 pounds in all; these were hidden in suitcases and concealed on suspects' bodies.

The heroin was bound for New York while the cocaine was intended for Miami. According to the AP report, the drugs had originated in Colombia and were picked up when Noordam stopped for a port of call at Isla de Margarita, Venezuela.

The passengers were not, according to reports, the usual,
run-of-the-mill Holland America cruisers; these folks were hired by a smuggling ring as couriers. None of the people arrested were connected in any way with Holland America, which says it cooperated fully with investigators.