10 Cruise Ship Passengers Arrested in Valencia for Cocaine Smuggling

msc seaside
MSC Seaside at a previous port call (MSC file image)

Published Apr 12, 2022 4:16 PM by The Maritime Executive

When the cruise ship MSC Seaside made her maiden call in Valencia, Spain last week, ten of her passengers had a surprise in store - an intercept by the Guardia Civil. 

Spain's national law-enforcement agency conducted a check of passenger luggage from the Seaside, and a drug-dog alerted to a set of suitcases. On examination, 15 pieces of luggage were found to contain cocaine, secretly stashed in false-bottom compartments. The total haul came to 54 kilos. 

The Guardia Civil's Office of Analysis and Investigation (ODAIFI) arrested 10 passengers in connection with seizure, including four men and six women. The cocaine was all found in the womens' luggage. 

All were Brazilian nationals, aged 23-50, and they had boarded the Seaside in pairs. According to ODAIFI, the detainees have ties to not one but two different organized-crime groups. It is not known whether they were all cooperating, or whether the two teams happened to be conducting two separate smuggling operations on the same ship at the same time. 

According to local media, the two teams of smugglers intended to take their drugs to different destinations: one set was headed to Madrid, the other to Lisbon. 

The MSC Seaside arrived in Valencia from the port of Santos, Brazil, a notorious hub for the smuggling of Bolivian cocaine. According to Insight Crime, Santos' drug trade is controlled by the Primeiro Comando da Capital (PCC) gang, which has regional connections for transporting Bolivian drugs through Paraguay and into Brazil.