A cruise ship’s security services discovered 69.5 pounds of cocaine on board the vessel last week and turned over the haul to US Customs and Border Protection officers upon docking at a Florida port, CBP said in a statement.
Cruise officials alerted CBP officers assigned to Port Everglades seaport that a vessel inspection had found garbage bags with brick-shaped packages in a void space of the ship.
On June 6, CBP officers met the cruise ship and security team during a maintenance stop at Port Everglades, and the packages of white powder tested positive for cocaine, CBP said.
The CBP’s Advanced Tactical Cargo Enforcement Team performed a “thorough inspection” of the ship and did not find any other contraband, the agency said.
Dylan DeFrancisci, port director of field operations for Port Everglades/Fort Lauderdale, praised the operation that discovered of the cocaine.
“This seizure is indicative of the excellent collaboration CBP has with our industry partners to detect and interdict illegal drugs being smuggled into our nation,” DeFrancisci said in a statement. “Our officers strive daily developing and enhancing our partnerships with other law enforcement agencies, industry partners and the citizens of our community to stop criminal activity at our borders, be it land, air or sea.”
CBP says it seized about 3,677 pounds of drugs in a typical day in 2020.
The latest discovery comes as mass Covid-19 vaccinations have opened the door for cruise ships to test the waters.
Cruises in US waters came to a halt last March, with a CDC No Sail Order. Last month the CDC issued updated guidelines, allowing cruise ship operators to begin simulated voyages with volunteer passengers.
Some cruise companies have resumed operations in other parts of the world, including MSC Cruises and Costa Cruise Lines in Europe. Many lines are targeting midsummer to resume cruising in US waters, provided they can meet CDC requirements.
CNN’s Ryan Prior contributed to this report.