Seven arrested in cocaine cruise ship smuggling operation
Contraband seized from passenger arriving on M/S Jewel of the Seas
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico —Is there a mule in the cabin next to you?
Cruise passengers likely don’t expect there to be eleven kilos of cocaine next to them on a ship but the Customs agents hunted down six guys with a boatload of coke when the Royal Caribbean Jewel of The Seas pulled into port in San Juan.
Field Operations Officers from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) seized Sunday 11 Kilograms (24 pounds) of cocaine at the M/S Jewel of the Seas. The contraband was found by CBP officers during a cabin inspection upon arrival of the vessel. The estimated value of the seized contraband is over $300,000.
While performing cabin inspections, a CBP canine alerted to a piece of luggage in one of the cabins. Upon opening the suitcase, ten (10) packages were found that subsequently tested positive to the properties of cocaine.
CBP notified U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents, who assumed custody of the seized contraband and of the cabin’s occupant for further investigation. A total of seven individuals were detained in relation to this incident and Assistant United States Attorney Dina Avila-Jimenez has accepted prosecution of all individuals.
“San Juan Office of Field Operations has a responsibility to ensure that criminal organizations do not use lawful travel as a means to conceal and move narcotics,” said Keith McFarquhar, Acting Area Port Director for Puerto Rico. “Our officers remain vigilant to detect and prevent any attempts to circumvent the security measures that are in place.”
CBP uses sophisticated methods to identify and target potentially high-risk passengers and cargo, including advanced electronic information about every passenger and cargo shipment entering into the U.S. before their arrival, canine inspections and non-intrusive devices.
CBP Office of Field Operations’ dual mission is to facilitate travel in the United States while we secure our borders, our people and our visitors from those that would do us harm like terrorists and terrorist weapons, criminals, and contraband.