Seven arrested in UK cruise ship drugs seizure

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Arcadia leaving Southampton in 2006

Cocaine with a street value of £1.2 million (US$2 million) was seized as the United Kingdom P&O Cruises' ship Arcadia arrived in its home port of Southampton, on the south coast of England, early yesterday. Seven people from the Manchester and Birmingham areas of the country were arrested on the dockside, with four of them being remanded in custody. Between them, the four allegedly had 30 kilograms of the Class A drug strapped to their bodies.

The detained four appeared at Southampton Magistrates' Court earlier today charged with the importation of a Class A drug. The other three have been released on bail pending an appearance at the same Court on 27th October.

The four, none of whom are crew members of the 1,952-passenger Arcadia, have been named as Mrs Quinn, 26, of Rochdale, Lancashire; Mr Hylton, 41, of Manchester; Mrs Dyce, 25, Handsworth, Birmingham; and Mrs Dupee, 19, of Handsworth, Birmingham.

The arrests were carried out in a joint operation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigators and UK Border Agency officers; dozens of personnel were involved. Peter Avery, the Assistant Director of Criminal Investigation of HMRC, said: "Drugs devastate lives and communities and we are determined to prevent them reaching UK streets. Our investigations will not only focus on those transporting the cocaine, but also those that finance and mastermind this illegal trade."

The three-year-old ship had just returned from a 23-day cruise around the Caribbean, having stopped in Antigua, St Lucia, Grenada and Barbados among other islands. A P&O spokesperson said that this was the first time they were aware of P&O passengers being arrested for smuggling cocaine.