Customs and Border Protection found 6 crew members with 17 pounds of cocaine in their cabins and on their bodies during K9 drug sweep of MSC Cruises' Seaside ship on November 17, according to court filings. Another employee, 32-year-old Damion Hawthorne, was arrested on charges of hiring 5 of the crew into the smuggling operation.
According to the Federal prosecutors, Hawthorne recruited 27yo Londiwe Shange, 29yo Wandile Mhlongo, 36yo Thembeka Sokhulu, and 23yo Viwe Tshaka, all from South Africa, to pick up drugs when MSC Seaside was docked at port in Jamaica and deliver them to somebody in PortMiami. Mhlongo, Sokhulu and Shange told investigators that they had been earning around US$2,000 for each run over the past two months. Tshaka said that November 17 was her first making a run.
All 7 people are being held on US$250,000 bond; their arraignments are scheduled for December 3 in Miami federal court.
A spokesperson for MSC Cruises said that all crew members were patted down when they exited and entered the ship at PortMiami. MSC Cruises also contracts a private security company in order to conduct dog-sniffing checks of the vessel at the port.
For other MSC Seaside accidents and incidents see at the ship's CruiseMinus page.