Big Cruise Ship Cocaine Bust in Jamaica

Posted Feb 25th 2011 10:00 AM

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Royal Caribbean says two crew members were busted in Jamaica, in a drug smuggling plot that involved 33 kilos (about 73 pounds) of cocaine.

Cruise line spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez tells AOL Travel News authorities boarded the 1,950-passenger Grandeur of the Seas while the ship was docked in Montego Bay, Jamaica on Wednesday and "detained a crew member and found that he was in possession of 18 kilos of cocaine."

A short time later, authorities came back onboard the cruise ship and found an additional 15 kilos of cocaine in the cabin of another crew member, Martinez says.

Customs Department authorities in Jamaica estimate the street value of the cocaine at $1.1 million, according to the Jamaica Observer.

The newspaper says some of the cocaine was found strapped to the body of a crew member, while the rest was in a suitcase.

Both of the crew members are Jamaican.

The ship had visited Cartagena, Colombia before arriving in Montego Bay, on a seven-day cruise from Colon, Panama, that also includes stops in Grand Cayman and Roatan, Honduras.

"Royal Caribbean is cooperating fully with authorities during this investigation and will continue providing any assistance necessary to prosecute these individuals to the fullest extent of the law," Martinez says.

This is not the only recent large-scale bust involving a Royal Caribbean ship. In December, three crew members on the line's Enchantment of the Seas were busted on shore in Baltimore for possession of $65,000 in cocaine. A few weeks law enforcement authorities found another $94,000 worth of heroin and cocaine was found on the ship.

In another recent case, a Jamaican waiter on Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas was found guilty in Bermuda of conspiring to import more than $425,000 worth of cocaine onto the island. A sizeable stash was found hidden under a chair in the ship's disco.

There have been a bunch of smaller busts too. Just last week, In Jamaica, a passenger on the line's Voyager of the Seas was arrested with a small amount of cocaine as the ship made the maiden call at the brand new Jamaican port of Falmouth. The passenger was fined $2,000 and spent seven days in prison.

In a recent interview with AOL Travel News, Gary Bald, who heads Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.'s global security department, and formerly held the third most senior ports in the FBI, says the cruise company is focused on keeping drugs off its ships.

"What we see is occasional successes by our joint team, our security folks and our law enforcement partners," he says. "It doesn't happen often for us, but it happens enough to keep us focused on it."
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