Sea Princess drugs bust: Security measures “vital” to prevent further episodes
There were calls today for increased security measures following the arrest of three Canadians in Sydney on Sunday charged with smuggling a record haul of 95kg of cocaine into Australia aboard Sea Princess.
The three had started their journey in Southampton with the ship stopping at several South American countries on the voyage.
Sea Princess started the journey in Southampton and stopped in South America en route to Australia
Australian Border Force regional commander Tim Fitzgerald said it was the country’s biggest ever cruise ship narcotics seizure, with an estimated value of £23m.
Authorities believe they have disrupted a major international crime gang attempting to flood Australian streets with illicit drugs.
“I can’t go into the specifics about the background of this particular syndicate, but you’ve got to be a very well-organised syndicate to get your hands on 95kg of cocaine and attempt to import it here into Sydney,” Commander Fitzgerald said.
“This particular cruise ship had a number of other ports it was going to visit while in Australia, but certainly the suggestion is that all 95kg of that cocaine was destined for the streets of Australia.”
The cocaine was apparently discovered inside locked suitcases in two cabins.
The trio face a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and will remain in custody until their next court appearance on October 26.
Gerry Northwood of MAST, the maritime risk management company, said: today: “The challenge presented by the cruise industry is that the vessels cross international and national jurisdictions and visit many different ports in various countries.
“Maintaining a cohesive and effective surveillance regime requires robust security protocols to be established between national law enforcement authorities and shipping companies. Especially those shipping companies who are responsible for high numbers of passengers and crew.
“Current cruise line security measures rightly attempt to address threats and vulnerabilities to the vessels. This process needs to include the crew and passengers so that they fully buy into what is being done to protect them. Not only is it vitally important that they feel safe while on board, but they should be educated in what to look out for, so that they can make an active and informed contribution to the overall security effort.
“On this occasion the US, Canadian and New Zealand law enforcement agencies acted successfully to prevent the narcotics being landed. However, it is just as important that steps are taken to stop the narcotics making it on board the vessel in the first place, as next time it might be just as easy to smuggle weapons or explosives on board - and the consequences might be far worse for all concerned.”
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31 August 2016
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