Cruise Crew Accused of Attempting to Smuggle Drugs into US
The Baltimore Sun reports the men, who were working aboard Royal Caribbean's Enchantment of the Seas during a 12-night Caribbean sailing, have been indicted on charges of conspiring to import drugs. The men allegedly picked up the illegal substances in the Dominican Republic, with plans to sell them upon returning to the port of Baltimore, where the cruise embarked.
Tipped off by another crew member, agents searched one of the suspected smugglers when the ship docked in Baltimore on December 18, following a Caribbean cruise. On his waistband and in his shoes, agents say they found 700 grams of heroin and 300 grams of cocaine. That's an estimated $65,000 in illegal drugs.
Accounts by agents of the Department of Homeland Security, filed in federal court, say the man had picked up the drugs from the Dominican Republic with aid from two other crew members working in the galley of the cruise ship.
Later that day, agents followed another suspected crew member to a Wal-Mart near the cruise terminal, where they saw him entering and exiting a black GMC Envoy with Virginia plates.
When customs agents pulled over the vehicle, they found $8,000 in cash. A woman who had exited the car was found inside the Wal-Mart with 700 grams of heroin and 300 grams of cocaine in her purse, officials say.
In a statement, Royal Caribbean confirms a security officer aboard the ship notified customs officials about potential illegal activities, and that three crew members were detained for questioning.
"Royal Caribbean International maintains a strict zero tolerance policy regarding illegal drugs on its ships. We take various steps to prevent the transport of illegal narcotics, including working closely with U.S. Customs and Border Protection," reads the statement.
The cruise company "cooperated fully with authorities during this investigation and will continue providing any assistance necessary to prosecute these individuals to the fullest extent of the law."
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Photo, Wikimedia Commons.