12 Arrested for Smuggling Cocaine on a Cruise Ship

Drugs were allegedly smuggled inside these snack bags (Judicial Police)

Published Apr 2, 2019 5:15 PM by The Maritime Executive

Portuguese and British police have arrested 12 people on suspicion of drug smuggling after finding about 18 kilos of cocaine in luggage aboard the cruise ship MSC Opera.

On March 24, the MSC Opera arrived in Funchal, Madiera on a voyage from the Caribbean. Police met her at the dock and took four passengers into custody. Additional individuals were arrested on shore in in connection with the scheme. According to the UK National Crime Agency (NCA), the suspects are between 20 and 52 in age, evenly split between men and women. They include two UK citizens and a Dutch national living in London.   

About 18 kilos of cocaine were recovered by Portuguese officers, all hidden in plastic bowls and bags of chips. NCA estimated the UK street value of the shipment at about $2.6 million. 

The NCA and the Judicial Police of Portugal worked together on the seizure. In a statement, MSC Cruises said that it cooperated with authorities to facilitate the arrests.
“We believe this operation will have seriously disrupted an organised crime group looking to traffick cocaine into the UK and Europe, said Allan Round, operations manager for the NCA's Joint Border Intelligence Unit. “Once in the UK we know cocaine generates huge profits for criminal networks who are also involved in street violence and exploitation, so stopping it will help reduce the harm caused by them.”