Transatlantic Drug Smugglers On Trial

Lipcon, Marguiles, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A

When you depart for your cruise vacation, there is a very good chance that you are looking forward to enjoying a few days of kicking back and relaxing. After all, you work hard during the rest of the year, it only makes sense that you would want to spend some well-deserved carefree time. In addition, most of the time, the other passengers on your cruise will feel the same way.

However, occasionally individuals with motives other than relaxation and travel take cruises.  The U.S. has seen a handful of drug trafficking cases in the past year. These typically involved individuals attempting to smuggle illicit substances back into the country after a Caribbean Cruise.

However, a recent story out of France reveals that much larger drug smuggling operations aboard cruise ships are exists.

Individuals Brought Drugs Across Three Continents

This week, 34 individuals who were part of a drug smuggling operation went on trial for their crimes. The group began operations in 2012 and ran without consequence until 2014. Using 13 different cruise ships during this time, members of the drug ring brought cannabis from Morocco to Brazil, where they then bartered it for cocaine and brought it back to Europe.

Due to more casual security checks, the smugglers successfully hide the drugs on their bodies when embarking and disembarking. That is, until a murder investigation in 2013 led undercover officers from France and Spain to travel aboard the Costa Fascinosa cruise ship in March 2014. It was then that the officers arrested the majority of the smugglers and seized the 25 kilograms of cocaine in their possession.

The judge assigned to this case remarked that, “We are judging an international smuggling ring that operated between three continents using cruise ships. This is new, this is a first.” He further commented that he believes the trial will last three weeks. We will continue to watch this case as it unfolds.

Security Screenings Must Be Improved

In the wake of the coming to light of this drug smuggling ring, we cannot help but to wonder how such a large-scale operation could have existed for two years, without anyone taking note?

We suspect that in foreign ports there is room for improvement in the security checks and screenings that passengers go through before embarking their vessel.

In this U.S., it is typically during these screenings that the authorities discover illegal substances. Even though, every country has its own security procedures. It appears obvious that those of the countries involved in this case must not have been strong enough to identify the presence of marijuana and cocaine. The bigger question becomes what other security weaknesses continue undiscovered.

Let LMAW Help

Fortunately, no passengers or crewmembers suffered harm because of the drug ring aboard this series of ships. However, that is not always the case. Accident and injury can affect individuals not directly involved in the activity causing them their injury. If that has happened to you or a loved one, you can rest assured that a maritime attorney on our team is here to help.

We have aided clients with cases against most major cruise lines, so we are prepared to fight for you, from start to finish.

Ready to move forward towards your future? Do not hesitate to contact us.