56-yo fugitive sentenced for drug trafficking arrested on Costa Smeralda cruise ship

   September 19, 2023 ,   Accidents

Matteo Romano, aged 56, who had managed to evade authorities since 2018 following his conviction for drug trafficking and evasion, was apprehended while on a family cruise. Romano, who had been residing in Spain's Balearic Islands, had successfully eluded law enforcement for several years. Italian police received a crucial tip suggesting that he would be aboard the cruise ship Costa Smeralda, departing from Palma de Mallorca on September 12th.

In a well-coordinated operation, with the valuable support of Costa Cruises, police officers boarded a pilot boat and reached the Smeralda, which was positioned ~3 miles (4.8 miles) off the coast of Palermo (Sicily Italy). The cruise ship's Captain (Paolo Benini) maintained a stationary position with the engines running, facilitating the investigators' boarding. They conducted thorough searches of decks and corridors until they ultimately located Matteo Romano's cabin. Meanwhile, on land, Romano's family had the opportunity to bid their farewells before he was transported to Palermo's Pagliarelli Prison, where he will serve his sentence, barring any new judicial orders.

This fugitive had amassed a sentence of 10 months for drug trafficking and an additional 8 months from the Palermo court for evasion. Romano had seemingly mastered the art of evading law enforcement for years, eventually making his way to Spain in a bid to escape justice. However, his plans for a seemingly idyllic family cruise vacation took an unforeseen turn when the police received vital information pointing to his presence on Costa Smeralda.

For more Costa Smeralda incidents and accidents see the ship's CruiseMinus page.