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Earlier this month, seven crew members of the MSC Seaside cruise ship were arrested on charges of smuggling cocaine into the United States through the Port of Miami.
On November 17, agents of the Department of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) found six crew members with a total of 17 pounds of cocaine hidden in their bodies or in the cabins during a search of the ship in search of drugs in which dogs of Canine Unit K9 participated, according to court documents.
Another crew member, Damion Hawthorne, 32, was subsequently arrested after being accused of having contacted five of the crew members for the smuggling operation. According to federal prosecutors, Hawthorne recruited Londiwe Shange, 27, Wandile Mhlongo, 29, Thembeka Sokhulu, 36, and Viwe Tshaka, 23, all from South Africa, to pick up drugs when the Seaside was anchored in Jamaica, and then handing them over to someone in Miami.
Shange, Mhlongo and Sokhulu told investigators that they earned close to $ 2,000 for each delivery in the last two months. Tshaka declared that it was the first time that he made a delivery. CBP agents found 2.2 pounds of cocaine in the backpacks of Errol Roy Sutherland, 39, and Carl Michael Smith, 27, according to court documents. Sutherland told the agents that a childhood friend from Jamaica gave him the backpack in September to give it to someone in Miami.
Smith said he has been in business for about four months. The seven arrested remain in jail with bail of $ 250,000. They must appear in federal court in Miami on December 3. Alyssa Goldfarb, a spokesperson for MSC Cruises, said all crew members are registered when they enter and leave the ship in PortMiami.
Similarly, MSC has hired a private security company to register the boat with dogs in the port, Goldfarb added.
Source: El Nuevo Herald