The British pensioner couple arrested after allegedly trying to smuggle £2 million of cocaine into Europe on board their cruise liner, were described today as regular high seas holidaymakers.
Respected Portuguese daily Correio da Manha said the pair, aged 72 and 70, had enjoyed several other luxury cruises in the past.
The unnamed couple were arrested on Dec 4 after Portuguese plain-clothes officers boarded the MS Marco Polo as it docked at Lisbon Port’s cruise terminal after it returned from several stops in the Caribbean.
Detectives discovered nine kilos of cocaine with an estimated UK street value of £2 million hidden inside four suitcases during a search of their cabin.
The elderly couple, who had paid £3,000 each for their tickets, were remanded in prison following a court appearance the following day.
Vitor Ananais, who led the operation for the Policia Judiciaria, said: “The man and the woman are English although they don’t live in England but in another European country.
“I can’t say which country at the moment because the investigation is ongoing and I don’t want to compromise what we are doing.
“The arrests took place on December 4. We knew who were looking for and boarded the cruise ship with a search warrant.
“There were nine kilos in total.
“The couple appeared in court on December 5. The woman is currently being held at a prison in Tires near Lisbon and the man at prison in Lisbon.
“We believe the couple were given the drugs in a Caribbean island but are still looking into which island at this stage.
“We do not know for sure at the moment where the cocaine was going to be brought ashore. Again that is something that is being probed.
“These are the only arrests so far.”
He added: “The couple were not at all showy and blended in well because most of the other passengers on the cruise liner were elderly.
“They were travelling alone. They didn’t try to protest their innocence after their arrests. They haven’t said anything to police as to how the drugs got in their cases.”
A well-placed source said the cocaine could have been fetched nearly £2 million on the streets of the UK.
A spokesman for Cruise & Maritime Voyages said: “Portuguese police officials attended the Marco Polo in Lisbon last Tuesday (4 December 2018) and detained two passengers who were travelling on board the Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ vessel.
“There were 610 passengers and 294 crew on board the ship. Marco Polo continued on her cruise as scheduled and arrived at the London Cruise Terminal in Tilbury on Saturday 8 December.
“Cruise & Maritime Voyages do not tolerate any criminal activity or anti-social behaviour on board their ships.”….
Source: www.telegraph.co.uk ()
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