Fox News- Three Canadian cruise ship passengers aboard the MS Sea Princess were arrested on Sunday in Sydney, Australia after police found over 200 pounds of cocaine in their suit cases.
The three passengers, Andre Tamine, 63, Isabelle Legace, 28, and Melina Roberce, 22, sailed to Sydney from Southampton U.K. on board Princess Cruise Lines, Sea Princess. When they arrived in Sydney on Sunday, they were arrested and charged with drug smuggling the next day.
The drugs recovered are reported to have a street value of $23 million and was the largest narcotics seizure in Australia carried by a cruise or airline passenger, Australian Border Force Commander, Tim Fitzgerald, told reporters Monday.
“I can’t go into specifics about the background of this particular syndicate, but you have to be a very organised to get your hands on 95 kilograms of cocaine,” Fitzergerald said, noting that the the Sea Princess had made multiple stops in South American countries before arriving in Sydney.
“Sydney is highly attractive for cruise ships so we’re continually risk assessing the cruise ships and the passengers that come by air. This particular cruise ship – because of the nature and the amount of ports it had been to – was considered quite high risk in itself.”
The Australian Authorities believe that Sydney was the final destination for the cocaine. The three passengers did not apply for bail, which was formally refused by a judge Monday when they were charged. The three will remain in custody until their next hearing on October 26.
Australian police are still investigating whether they boarded the ship with the cocaine in Southampton, or whether it was picked up in one of the ports of call.
On Sunday, Australian Border Force officers boarded the ship when it docked in Sydney Harbour and, with the help of detector dogs, searched a number of passenger cabins.
Fitzgerald reported 35 kilograms of cocaine were found in suitcases in a cabin the women shared, and 60 kilograms of the drug were found in the man’s luggage in a separate cabin.
He thanked the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Canada Border Services Agency for helping identify the three as “high-risk passengers” among the 1,800 on board.
Clive Murray, assistant commissioner of strategic border command with the Australian Border Force, said the incident was an example of international co-operation in the fight against international drug syndicates.
“These syndicates should be on notice that the Australian Border Force is aware of all of the different ways they attempt to smuggle drugs into our country and we are working with a range of international agencies to stop them,” he said.
The Australian Federal Police said the investigation is ongoing and further arrests have not been ruled out.