Page last updated at 17:46 GMT, Friday, 16 January 2009

Four jailed after ship drug raid

Clockwise from top left: Natalie Quinn, Calvin Hylton, Briony Dyce and Camille Dupee
It is thought to be the largest Class A drugs seizure on a UK cruise ship

Four smugglers have been jailed for 12 years each for attempting to smuggle cocaine with an estimated street value of 1.75m on the P&O liner Arcadia.

Nearly 20kg (43.8lb) of cocaine was seized from the cruise ship in Southampton on 19 October.

Natalie Quinn, of Rochdale, Calvin Hylton, of Manchester, Camille Dupee and Briony Dyce, both of Birmingham, pleaded guilty on 15 December.

They were found by customs officers with cocaine strapped to their bodies.

The seizure is believed to be the largest of Class A drugs aboard a cruise ship arriving in the UK.

Southampton Crown Court heard that the cocaine was collected when the liner stopped in St Lucia in the Caribbean during a a three-week cruise.

Serious payback

Judge Derwin Hope said the sentence should serve as a deterrent to others from becoming drug couriers.

He said: "Being a courier is a vital role, it's a means by which the drugs get into this country.

"It was obviously a well run and well organised international drugs operation that each of you connected with and succumbed to the overtures.

"No-one goes on an all paid up 23-day cruise to the Caribbean without realising something serious by payback would be required."

All four had cocaine strapped to their bodies when they were searched
All four had cocaine strapped to their bodies when they were searched

John Clifford, prosecuting, told the court that during the cruise, the ship's security officer Bob Ward became suspicious of the quartet as he felt they "seemed to look out of place".

The court heard the rest of the passengers were all white couples aged in their 60s and 70s.

Mr Ward contacted HM Revenue and Customs and when the ship returned to Southampton the group were searched.

Mr Clifford said: "Each defendant was found to have silver shrink-wrapped packages concealed about their person, under their clothing, held in place by blue tape."

He said the rolls of tape were found in Dyce's baggage suggesting she had a greater organisational role in the operation as she had also booked all of the tickets.

Three further suspects are due to answer bail in connection with the smuggling operation next week, a spokeswoman for HM Revenue and Customs said.

Quinn is 26 years old and from Grenville Walk, Rochdale, and Hylton is 41, of Ermington Drive, Manchester.

Dupee, 19, of Raleigh Close, and Dyce, 25, of Brearley Street, are both from Handsworth, Birmingham.

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