They seemed like the perfect cruisers. Former chef Roger Clarke, 72 and his retired secretary wife, Sue, 71, went to Cuba, Brazil and the Caribbean aboard cruise ships spending $33,000 in just 18 months, making them the envy of their friends.
But just where the money came from, considering they lived on $1,634 a month pension was a mystery. Until now.
The elderly British couple has been accused of smuggling $1.8 million worth of cocaine on board their ship to finance their holidays. When they were arrested on board the MC Marco Polo docked in Lisbon, Portugal, police found nine kilograms of cocaine allegedly in their suitcases.
At his trial in Lisbon this week, Mr Clarke said he had no idea nine kilograms of cocaine were hidden in the lining of four suitcases he agreed to pick up on the paradise island of St Lucia.
Earlier, he told police a mystery businessman of “Jamaican origin” named Lee paid for their $12,555 Caribbean cruise and fooled them into smuggling the drugs.
Mr Clarke claimed that the Jamaican businessman had asked him to buy exotic fruit from the Caribbean which he could sell in luxury department store Harrods for a massive profit. He then asked him to pick up “empty” new suitcases in St Lucia from an unidentified middleman.
The Clarkes haves been cruising for two years from their home near Alicante, Spain. A diary kept by the couple revealed they had travelled to Brazil, Cuba and the Caribbean.
The couple could face up to 12 years in prison if convicted of drug trafficking.
Subscribe to Cruise Passenger magazine and win a luggage set worth $1,378
Save up to $31.40 when you subscribe to Cruise Passenger magazine and go into the draw to win a Samsonite Cosmolite 3 luggage set worth $1,378.