Cruise Ship

Costa Smeralda

Incident Type

Passenger Crime (Drug Trafficking Arrest)

Date of Accident

September 14, 2023

Location of Accident

Off the coast of Palermo, Sicily, Italy

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On September 14, 2023, an event unfolded aboard the cruise ship Costa Smeralda that led to the arrest and subsequent disembarkation of a 56-year-old male passenger, Matteo Romano. Romano had been a fugitive since 2018, wanted on charges related to drug trafficking. He had managed to evade law enforcement for five years while residing in the Balearic Islands. However, his time as a fugitive came to an end when he boarded the Costa Smeralda in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, accompanied by his family. A tip alerted the Italian police to his presence on the ship, leading to his arrest.

Details of the Incident

With the full support of Costa Cruises, Italian law enforcement officers arrived at the cruise ship aboard a pilot boat, approximately 5 kilometers (3 miles) off the coast of Palermo, Sicily. There, they apprehended Matteo Romano. Following his arrest, Romano was transported to Pagliarelli Prison in Palermo to begin serving his 18-month sentence. This sentence comprised 10 months for drug trafficking, to which he had been charged in 2018, and an additional 8 months for his evasion from the authorities.

Operational Context

The incident took place during the 7-day Mediterranean Cruise, which featured an itinerary from September 12th to September 19th. The roundtrip voyage departed from Palma de Mallorca, Majorca Island, Spain, and included several call ports in Italy, France, and Spain. Notably, the arrest occurred during the ship’s visit to Palermo on September 14th.

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