May 5, 2003
In two separate incidences, four passengers sailing aboard a Norwegian Sea
Caribbean cruise late last month found their trip cut short when they were
placed under arrest for possession of drugs.
According to the U.S. Attorney's office in St. Thomas, a "routine search" of
the ship, then docked at Havensight, uncovered the drugs. In the first
instance, passengers Christopher Brown and Nadine Willis admitted to owning
a suitcase found with "54 flat taped wrapped packages and one brick like
package" -- and which was field tested and proven to contain 30.78 kilograms
of cocaine. They admitted that they body-carried the narcotics onto the
cruise ship while in Curacao. Curacao, in the Netherlands Antilles, was a
previous port of call on that particular itinerary.
In an eerily similar incident on the same day -- in the same port of call --
two other passengers were found to be in possession of drugs. In this case,
Venris Clarke and Melissa Peak, that same "routine" search turned up a
suitcase with, according to the U.S. Attorney¹s statement, "53 flat taped
wrapped packages and six brick like packages." Also field-tested, it was
revealed that they had body-carried on board nearly 30 kilograms of cocaine.
Peak admitted that she would be paid $10,000.00 to body carry narcotics off
the Norwegian Sea when the ship arrived in Bermuda.
In all four cases, the penalty for their drug offenses -- if convicted -- is
a minimum mandatory sentence of ten years to life imprisonment, a $4 million
fine and a five year period of supervised release. The ex-passengers have
been remanded to custody in St. Thomas until they receive a pre-trial
The investigation is part of a stepped-up effort in the U.S. Virgin Islands
to thwart drug trafficking by any method. The U.S. Attorney's Office praised
a number of local and federal government entities -- the Drug Enforcement
Authority, the Virgin Islands Police Department's High Intensity Drug
Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force and the Bureau of Immigration and
Customs Enforcement, Department of Homeland Security. Norwegian Cruise Lines
did not respond to numerous calls for comment.