Cruise Ship passengers arrested in Valencia for cocaine smuggling

Recent stories relating to international drug smuggling by ship have tended to be cases either of drugs traffickers getting contraband onto and off ships without the knowledge of the crew, or of crew members liaising with the exporters and importers to move the material. But a new technique appears to have emerged, with 10 passengers on a cruise ship being arrested for carrying cocaine from South America to Europe.

Cruise ship MSC Seaside (IMO 9745366) made its maiden call in Valencia, Spain. Earlier this week, only for 10 of its passengers to be intercepted by an intercept by the Guardia Civil, Spain’s national law-enforcement agency, which conducted a check of passenger luggage. A drug-detecting dog alerted the police to a set of suitcases. On examination, 15 pieces of luggage were found to contain cocaine that had been concealed in false-bottom compartments. The total haul came to 54kg.

Four men and six women were arrested, with all of the cocaine having been placed in the women’s luggage.

All were Brazilian nationals, aged between 23 and 50 years, and they had boarded the Seaside in pairs.

The detainees were understood to have links to two different organized-crime groups, and it was possible that the two teams were conducting two separate smuggling operations, each unaware of the existence of the other group.

Local media reported that one team planned to take its cocaine to Madrid, while the other’s eventual target destination was Lisbon.

2017-built, Malta-flagged, 153,516 gt MSC Seaside is owned by CNS Compania Naviera Seaside 1 care of MSC Crociere SpA of Naples, Italy. ISM manager is MSC Cruise management UK Ltd. It is entered with Steamship Mutual (European syndicate) on behalf of CNS Compania Naviera Seaside 1.