DEA Busts Cruise Crew for Drug Smuggling

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.