Couple invited to join alleged cocaine smugglers crossing the Atlantic

Couple invited to join alleged cocaine smugglers crossing the Atlantic

British pensioner couple accused of smuggling £2m of cocaine on cruise liner ‘invited friends to join them crossing the Atlantic – as long as they put their own clothes in suitcases that would be provided’

  • EXCLUSIVE: Susan and Roger Clarke are accused of smuggling £2m of cocaine
  • The pensioners were discovered aboard a transatlantic ship at port in Lisbon 
  • Both have criminal records in UK but now live in Guardamar del Segura, Spain
  • Paul Craven said the pair befriended him and his cleaner wife Pauline 
  • The plumber said the couple invited them on a freebie trip to the Caribbean
  • He said they were asked to was bring designer suitcases filled with their clothes
  • They were told that they could sell the suitcases cheaply in London, Paul said

A British couple have told how an OAP couple accused of trying to smuggle £2m of cocaine tried to trick them into accepting an all-expenses-paid dream holiday cruise. 

Susan and Roger Clarke, 70 and 72, were arrested on December 4 by Portuguese plain-clothes officers on the MS Marco Polo as it docked at Lisbon. 

Officers discovered nine kilos of cocaine hidden inside four suitcases in their cabin. 

Another passenger on the cruise described how Mr Clarke paid for everything in cash, even aboard the boat he was taking ‘wads of cash’ from his pocket.

Susan and Roger Clarke are accused of smuggling £2m of cocaine. Paul Craven said the pair befriended him and his cleaner wife Pauline. Paul and Pauline are pictured together

The couple now live in Guardamar del Segura, Spain according to Ms Clarke’s Facebook account

Speaking to the Sun the passenger said: ‘I went ashore with them a ­couple of times and Roger paid for everything with cash. Even on the boat he would just get wads of cash out of his pocket.

‘They dodged all photos too — which is so odd for a cruise.’ 

He also remarked that Mr and Mrs Clarke were heavy drinkers and that Mr Clarke was very generous with his cash. 

Both have criminal records in the UK, it was reported yesterday. But now live in Guardamar del Segura, Spain according to Ms Clarke’s Facebook account.    

Plumber Paul Craven said the pair had befriended him and his wife Pauline in Lisbon and his spouse started a part-time cleaning job for them.

He said the couple invited them on a freebie trip to the Caribbean  – on the condition they brought back designer suitcases filled with their own clothes to resell in London for a profit.

Expat Pauline, 60, from Bolton, revealed the couple sacked her shortly after she turned down the ‘dodgy’ offer.

She spoke out last night after learning their former friends had been arrested in Portugal 

She said: ‘Assuming they knew they were hiding those drugs, I feel like we’re two very lucky people.

‘That could so easily have been us.

‘They asked us last year to accompany them on a Caribbean cruise.

‘I started a job cleaning their home in Spain near where we live part-time and they very quickly befriended us.

‘We were flattered when they offered to treat us to a transatlantic cruise. It was a dream-of-a-lifetime.

‘Roger told us he imported pineapples from the Caribbean to the UK in containers and said he wanted me on the ship to keep his wife company. They offered to pay for everything.

‘It seemed too good to be true at first and it was, because then they started saying we should buy some designer suitcases in the Caribbean because they could pick them up them cheap and we could sell them for two or three times more once we got to the UK.

‘I didn’t think anything of it initially but then they said we’d need to put our clothes inside the suitcases we were supposed to buy.

‘I couldn’t understand how we’d be able to sell the cases for a profit when they were essentially second-hand because they would have been used.

‘We turned them down when I checked out their story the designer suitcases were sold in Harrods and discovered Harrods didn’t stock them.

‘I got asked to stop cleaning their house soon after we said we didn’t want to go on the cruise with them.’

Paul, 64, added: ‘They openly admitted to having criminal records so we knew they were both dodgy.

‘They told us they had served time in prison after being caught trying to smuggle cigarettes in the back of a lorry.

‘I never imagined though that they might be involved in cocaine smuggling.

‘It sends a shiver down my spine to think of police coming into my cruise ship cabin and finding drugs inside a suitcase I’d agreed to put my clothes inside. That would have incriminated us.

‘We know other people have gone with them on holiday. They had some friends over from the UK to stay with them last year who then went back with them to England so they could all go on a cruise together.

‘Who knows what went on! Roger’s lucky he’s in prison at the moment because I think I’d lamp him now if I saw him.’

The elderly pair were jailed after police seized four suitcases full of cocaine from their cabin. Pictured: Cruise liner MS Marco Polo in the harbour of Eidfjord

Regular cruisers Roger, 72, and Sue, 70, were held after arriving in Lisbon on December 4 from the Bahamas on board MC Marco Polo.

Portuguese police entered their cabin with a search warrant.

Roger is said to have bragged to fellow holidaymakers on his £3,000-a-head cruise that they paid just £160 for the four holdalls on the Caribbean island of St Lucia and claimed the luggage would have cost them £1,500 in Harrods.

The couple, now awaiting trial in prison in Lisbon, also talked about living a luxury expat lifestyle in Guardamar del Segura near Alicante on the Costa Blanca.

Susan and Roger Clarke, 70 and 72, were arrested on December 4 after Portuguese plain-clothes officers boarded the MS Marco Polo as it docked at Lisbon

Roger was dubbed ‘Mr B##shitter’ by acquaintances at the Brit-popular estate where he lived as it emerged his luxury home is a modest-looking three-bed villa worth just over POUNDS 200,000 which he rents on a long lease for just POUNDS 450 a month from a Chinese restaurant owner.

There was no sign of life at the shuttered-up white brick property, the corner house on a cul-de-sac with a small communal pool at the end of the road.

A sign on a wall on the corner of the street says in English, German and Spanish: ‘Neighbourhood Watch. We will immediately report all suspicious activity to the police.’

One neighbour said he now drove a Honda after his old BMW 7-Series blew up last year on the motorway as he was heading back to England.

He added: ‘He seemed like a normal bloke. He didn’t stand out as someone who was that well-off or that down-at-heel, although they were away on holiday a lot.

‘What he did stand out for though was his b##shit. He said he imported fruit from the Caribbean to London in large containers which I always thought was a lie.

‘He also said he’d been a boxer, a paramedic and a chef at a Michelin-starred restaurant.

‘I didn’t believe anything that came out of his mouth.’

Another acquaintance said: ‘Someone who heard his story about working as a chef at a Michelin-starred restaurant happened to know the owner.

‘The owner said he’d never heard of him. He also said he had been an ex-paratrooper but after the restaurant claim, I didn’t believe him.

‘He said he used to own two restaurants in Benidorm. Everyone knew he’d been in prison because he made no secret of it.

‘He said he’d been caught cigarette smuggling but didn’t go into much detail.

‘Both he and his wife have been married before and as far as I know they had grown-up children from previous relationships.’

The couple had only lived in their rented home on an residential estate called El Raso, a short drive from Guardamar del Segura, for around three years but were well-known in local bars and restaurants.

Both were members of a golf society at a British-run bistro-bar called Med.

A bar regular said: ‘He wasn’t one of the most-liked members of the society.

‘He was really rude to the bar staff. He’d order drinks without saying ‘hello’, even when the staff tried to get him to be a more polite by teaching him how to say ‘Hola’ in Spanish.

‘He liked a drink and he was a big cigarette smoker. I’ve seen him have brandy and beer for breakfast. He liked menthol cigarettes.’

‘He’s lucky not to have got done for drink-driving. I’ve seen him get in the car and drive back home the worse for wear before.’                

Susan and Roger were arrested on December 4 after Portuguese plain-clothes officers boarded the MS Marco Polo as it docked at Lisbon. 

Both have criminal records in the UK, it was reported yesterday. But now live in Guardamar del Segura, Spain according to Ms Clarke’s Facebook account.   

Detectives discovered nine kilos of cocaine hidden inside four suitcases in their cabin.

The pair were known to police and have committed crimes in the UK, reported Portuguese newspaper Correio da Manha. 

The elderly couple, who had paid £3,000 each for their Caribbean cruise tickets, were remanded in prison following a court appearance the day after their arrest.

Sources told The Sun that officers are investigating the possibility the couple were delivering for a gang. 

The source said: ‘The possibility this couple were working for a Costa del Sol-based British drugs gang and accomplices in the UK is being actively investigated.

‘They haven’t said a word yet, even to insist they’re innocent and claim the drugs were planted in their suitcases.’  

Vitor Ananais, who led the operation for the Policia Judiciaria, said: ‘The man and the woman are English although they don’t live in England but in another European country.

‘I can’t say which country at the moment because the investigation is ongoing and I don’t want to compromise what we are doing.

‘The arrests took place on December 4. We knew who were looking for and boarded the cruise ship with a search warrant.


  • Wife, 33, died after bingeing on cocaine just weeks before…


    ‘Cocaine dealer’ pleads not guilty to ‘strangling a Playboy…

Share this article

‘The drugs were hidden in false bottoms in the suitcases and were distributed evenly among the four cases in the cabin. There were nine kilos in total.

‘The couple appeared in court on December 5. The woman is currently being held at a prison in Tires near Lisbon and the man at prison in Lisbon.

‘We believe the couple were given the drugs in a Caribbean island but are still looking into which island at this stage.

‘We do not know for sure at the moment where the cocaine was going to be brought ashore. Again that is something that is being probed. These are the only arrests so far.’

He added: ‘The couple were not at all showy and blended in well because most of the other passengers on the cruise liner were elderly.

The elderly couple, who had paid £3,000 each for their Caribbean cruise tickets, were remanded in prison following a court appearance the day after their arrest

The unnamed couple, aged 72 and 70, were arrested on 4 December after Portuguese plain-clothes officers boarded the MS Marco Polo as it docked at Lisbon (stock image of Lisbon)

‘They were travelling alone. They didn’t try to protest their innocence after their arrests. They haven’t said anything to police as to how the drugs got in their cases.’

A well-placed source said the cocaine could have fetched nearly £2million on the streets of the UK.

A spokesman for Cruise & Maritime Voyages said: ‘Portuguese police officials attended the Marco Polo in Lisbon last Tuesday (4 December 2018) and detained two passengers who were travelling on board the Cruise & Maritime Voyages vessel.

‘It is understood this was in connection with the suspected possession of narcotics. Cruise & Maritime Voyages is co-operating fully with the Portuguese police officials.

‘Marco Polo departed from London Tilbury 5 November and was sailing on a West Indies & Azores cruise.

‘There were 610 passengers and 294 crew on board the ship. Marco Polo continued on her cruise as scheduled and arrived at the London Cruise Terminal in Tilbury on Saturday 8 December.

‘Cruise & Maritime Voyages do not tolerate any criminal activity or anti-social behaviour on board their ships.’

Most of the officers that boarded the ship are understood to have been plain-clothes officers.

A well-placed source said: ‘PJ officers are plain-clothes officers. They boarded the ship in a very discreet fashion so as to raise as little attention as possible to what they were doing.’ 

 Speaking to the Mirror, a neighbour in ­Guardamar said of Roger: “He didn’t stand out as someone that well off or down at heel [but] they were on holiday a lot. What he did stand out for was his b***shit. He said he imported fruit from the Caribbean to London, which I always thought was a lie.

“He also said he’d been a boxer, paramedic and a chef at a Michelin-starred restaurant. I didn’t believe anything that came out of his mouth.”

A friend of the Clarke’s told The Times said: “They were living in sheltered accommodation but then decided to move to Spain because that is where all Roger’s family live. We are all shocked by what has happened. They are a nice normal couple.

Mrs Clarke, 70, describes herself as a former secretary for Tony Blackman, a test pilot.

She also said to have worked for an executive at a travel company. 

She was most recently recorded as living with her 72-year-old husband in Orpington, southeast London.

They moved to a whitewashed villa in Guardamar del Segura, in Alicante province about three years ago.  

Source: Read Full Article