Published: 15 July 2021

Correspondents in the US have warned of an increase in the number of cases of illegal drugs being found on board ships in the US. In the past the drugs were often smuggled on board from ports in Colombia but, in order to try and avoid the scrutiny of US authorities, smugglers have recently sought to do so in other Central and South American countries. In one recent case the drugs were taken on board via small boats in open waters off Chile and Peru and other cases show drugs being smuggled from Ecuador, Guatemala and the Caribbean. The US authorities have increased the measures to detect drugs, with extra ships and specialist teams deployed.

Local correspondents recommend that when ships are visiting ports in Colombia or Mexico, or other Central or South American ports, additional security precautions be employed, such as maintaining guards at the berth and on deck, added watch (especially while in port and just after sailing), regular shipboard inspections while in port, records made in the log books, etc. If possible, in Colombian ports, Members should avoid bunkering, ship’s chandler services, and taking on provisions. If prior to arrival in the US, the Master suspects that drug smuggling may be taking place on board, he should immediately contact the Club correspondent at the destination port for instructions.  If drugs are found on board in the US, the Master should immediately contact the Club and the Club correspondent at that port.  It is also very important that the Master and crew show a high degree of co-operation with the US authorities.

Further information about how to prevent drugs being smuggled on board is available in the BSafe website.