Six Drug Smugglers Arrested Posing as Cruise Passengers
For the second time in weeks, Brazilian drug smugglers posing as cruise passengers were arrested while attempting to transport cocaine between Brazil and Europe. The latest group was intercepted boarding a cruise ship departing for a transatlantic cruise while the prior group was intercepted in Spain after having completed the crossing from Brazil.
Brazil’s Polícia Federal announced the arrests which happened on April 18 reporting that six people were detained after attempting to board Costa’s Costa Diadema in the port of Santos. The vessel was embarking passengers for an 18-night transatlantic cruise with port stops in Tenerife, Cadiz, and Barcelona in Spain before her final port, Savona, Italy. It was unclear if the smugglers were planning to travel to Spain or Italy as their destination.
Police dogs on the pier alerted the authorities to a problem with the luggage and when they searched the suitcases, they found hidden compartments containing the cocaine. In addition, one male passenger was found to also have cocaine wrapped around his waist. More than 30 kilos of cocaine was recovered.
The arrests included five Brazilians and one Argentine citizen. They were caught during an ongoing operation focusing on transatlantic passengers with the police also report arrests at the airport with people attempting to carry the drugs onto planes.
Earlier in April, 10 passengers were removed from the MSC Seaside when she arrived in Valencia, Spain during her transatlantic cruise from Brazil. Spain's national law-enforcement agency reported the discovery of 54 kilos of cocaine hidden in 15 pieces of luggage. Everyone arrested in that case were Brazilian citizens.
Both cruise ships had been cruising from Brazil during the annual season that began in October and lasted till late March and early April. The ships are repositioning for their summer season cruises in the Mediterranean, which the authorities believe made them easy targets for the drug smugglers hoping to blend in with the passengers.
Over the last two years, authorities reported that the drug cartels were using new and more brazen tactics in their efforts to transport the narcotics from South America. European ports have seen increases in the size of the shipments and new tactics including attempting to use smaller, regional ports, in the efforts to elude law enforcement.