Cruise Passengers Busted for Drugs on the Serenade of the Seas

U.S. Customs busted four passengers for drugs in two separate incidents this week aboard Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas cruise ship. Accordingly to Hispanically Speaking News, U.S. Customs officers seized cocaine and heroin aboard the Serenade of the Seas when the cruise ship was docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The Customs officers conducted a random inspection of ship cabins. During the search, a K-9 dogs alerted to the smell of narcotics which led the officers to three brick size cocaine packages between the passenger beds. The estimated value of the seized cocaine was $84,000. In a separate incident, the officers inspected luggage which exposed a large number of shoes that yielded a brown powdery substance. The officers found heroin wrapped in duct tape inside the shoes with a street value over $300,000. BYM Marine & Maritime News identifies the passengers in the cocaine smuggling incident as U.S. citizens Melinda Ivette Quiñones-Cruz, age 28, and Cristian Gabriel Oquendo-Lopez, 21, and in the heroin arrest Diana Hortencia Latigua-Lorenzo, age 32, a U.S. citizen, and her brother, Breidy Latigua-Lorenzo, 20, a citizen of the Dominican Republic. We have written about the dangers posed by using cruise ships to smuggle drugs into the U.S. in prior blogs articles. Many crew employees we talk to, especially cabin attendants, are frightened of the prospect of discovering drugs in the cabins they are responsible for cleaning, and are concerned with the possibility of retaliation by a passenger or other crew member. Many of the drug busts are due to random inspections of the cabins. Other arrests occur after U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers analyze the advanced listing of passengers and crew through APIS, the Advanced Passenger Information System. Photo credit: photobucket DeltaBlues2007

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