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Drug Bust on Cruise Ship: Four Brazilians Arrested in Marseille with 95 Kilos of Cocaine

Submitted by kgnadmin on

French authorities have successfully thwarted a major drug smuggling attempt, seizing 95 kilograms of cocaine and apprehending four Brazilian nationals, consisting of one man and three women, who used a cruise ship for their illicit activities.

On May 2, Customs officers at the port of Marseille noticed suspicious behavior from a Brazilian couple who disembarked from the cruise ship Costa Favolosa. The couple, carrying a suitcase, hastily returned to the ship upon realizing the presence of a checkpoint. Moments later, the woman reappeared, this time with a backpack. As the agents requested to inspect her belongings, the passenger suddenly changed her mind and threw the bag into the sea. The customs officers managed to retrieve the bag, which contained 8.4 kilograms of cocaine.

Subsequently, authorities conducted a search of the couple's stateroom and made a startling discovery. Hidden beneath the mattress were six bags containing a total of 86.4 kilograms of cocaine, estimated to be worth over 5 million euros. In addition, a reservation voucher was found, confirming the involvement of two other Brazilians who had left the ship in Marseille for an excursion.

The two remaining Brazilians were arrested upon their return to the ship, having discarded their bag. All four individuals were taken into custody. During the investigation, it was revealed that they had been recruited as drug mules by a powerful South American drug cartel after flying across the Atlantic and embarking on the Costa Favolosa cruise ship in Savona, Italy. The perpetrators had meticulously planned a tourist route to evade suspicion, arranging for their bags to be delivered to a rented apartment in Marseille's city center.

Authorities suspect that the arrested individuals comprise the second team involved in an elaborate drug trafficking scheme, and they believe another team boarded the ship in Brazil to transport the drugs on board. 

The Costa Favolosa set sail from Rio de Janeiro on April 14 for an 18-day transatlantic voyage, with stops in Salvador de Bahia, Recife, Tenerife, Cadiz, and Barcelona, before reaching Marseille on April 29. After a brief two-day cruise to Savona, the ship returned to Marseille on May 4 for a voyage to Morocco.

The route taken by the ship suggests that the drugs may have been initially concealed on board in Brazil by a first team and subsequently distributed by mules in Marseille or other European ports. The investigation remains ongoing as authorities work to identify all involved in the operation.

This seizure marks the largest confiscation on cruise ship at the Marseille-Fos port since January 2022. Notably, in 2022, a Brazilian couple was apprehended on the MSC Seaside with 12 kilograms of drugs in their luggage. The same year Brazilian law enforcement agencies arrested six drug smugglers attempting to board Costa Diadema at the port of Santos and confiscated about 30 kilos of cocaine.