When U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents boarded Royal Caribbean International’s Enchantment of the Seas Tuesday, they had good reason. Last month agents found 700 grams of heroin and 300 grams of cocaine hidden in the waistband and shoes of the crew member, The drugs had been picked up from a Jamaican man in the Dominican Republic, brought on to the ship, to be sold once they reached the United States.
“If we already encountered an incident where drugs were discovered on the ship, we’re more than likely going to take another look at the vessel further down the road,” Steve Sapp, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection told the Baltimore Sun.
In this discovery, $94,000 worth of cocaine was found wrapped in duct tape by a drug-sniffing dog in a common area of the ship, accessible by any crew member. No arrests have been made.
“It could be just about anybody,” Sapp said. “It would be really difficult for us to bring in everyone for an interview.”
This is not good news for Royal Caribbean or the cruise industry. The ongoing investigation aboard Enchantment of the Seas indicates that Federal authorities are beginning to target cruise ships for drug smuggling operations. Frequently visiting Caribbean islands where drugs are plentiful and easily distributed, the supply side of smuggling has minimal risk. Crew members with access to all areas of ships can find plenty of places to hide the contraband.
Royal Caribbean, along with other cruise lines, maintains a zero tolerance policy for illegal drugs on their ships. Look for TSA-like security precautions on cruise ships in the near future. This is inevitable. The cruise industry has always been a model for insuring the safety and security of passengers and crew at sea. This recent news, combined with their intense ongoing commitment to safety and security will bring new procedures.
It’s just a matter of which line will be first.
Flickr photo by anythiene