Drugs Enter U.S. Via Cruise Ships; Tampa Police Arrest 52

August 23, 2004

Last Friday (August 20), Tampa police arrested 52 people involved in an international operation in which drugs were shipped from Honduras to Jamaica, then taken to New Orleans via cruise ships. News reports indicate that the drugs allegedly entered the United States onboard Carnival ships.

According to Tampa's Public Information Office, for nearly half a year two men have been transporting crack cocaine monthly from Honduras to Jamaica, where the drugs were put on a cruise ship en route to New Orleans. From New Orleans, the drugs were driven to a main dealer in Tampa. (This dealer is currently in jail, and said to be responsible for ten pounds of crack cocaine -- valued for street sale at $450,000.)

Carnival reports in an official statement that "Carnival Cruise Lines has been working with the Department of Homeland Security regarding this ongoing investigation. The company will continue to cooperate with law enforcement officials, as this investigation moves forward." Tampa officials have not yet returned calls to confirm if any of those arrested were crew members, or which vessels were specifically involved. Arrests were made on public housing property in Tampa, not onboard any vessel.

This is the largest drug operation in Tampa Police history to date, involving nine search warrants, 64 arrest warrants and nearly six months of investigation.