CBP Seizes Cocaine Smuggled Aboard Cruise Ship at Port Everglades

Courtesy CBP

Published Jun 13, 2021 3:13 PM by The Maritime Executive

Cruise ship operations are about to return to the United States, bringing welcome relief to cruise lines and cruise-focused ports. In a sign of the return to normalcy, smugglers are once again taking advantage of legitimate cruise ship movements to piggyback small consignments of cocaine into the United States - not as large as the massive shipments that make the voyage on container ships or semi-submersibles, but still enough to warrant vigilance.

On June 6, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) seized 32 kilos of cocaine discovered by the security services aboard an unnamed cruise ship. The crew handed over the contraband last week upon docking in Port Everglades, Florida.

CBP officers assigned to Port Everglades were alerted by cruise officials in advance of their vessel's arrival. On June 6, CBP officers met the cruise ship and their security team at the pier during the ship's maintenance call at Port Everglades. On docking, the vessel's security team produced garbage bags filled with brick-shaped packages, which they had found in a void space while off the coast of Florida. The white power substance contained in the bricks field-tested positive for cocaine.

At a typical wholesale price of $30,000 per kilo, the shipment would be worth nearly $1 million. 

"This seizure is indicative of the excellent collaboration CBP has with our industry partners to detect and interdict illegal drugs being smuggled into our nation," said Dylan DeFrancisci, Port Director of Field Operations for Port Everglades/Fort Lauderdale. 

While the cruise ship was in port, a specialized CBP search team made a thorough sweep, and no further contraband was located.