69 Pounds of Cocaine Found in Cruise Ship

US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officers seized 69.5 Pounds (31.5 Kilos) of cocaine discovered by the security services of a cruise ship, who handed over the contraband last week upon docking into Port Everglades.

CBP officers assigned to Port Everglades seaport were alerted by cruise officials regarding their vessel inspection that resulted in garbage bags with brick shape packages found in a void space while off the coast of Florida.

“This seizure is indicative of the excellent collaboration CBP has with our industry partners to detect and interdict illegal drugs being smuggled into our nation.” said Dylan DeFrancisci, Port Director of Field Operations for Port Everglades/Fort Lauderdale, Fl. “Our officers strive daily developing and enhancing our partnerships with other law enforcement agencies, industry partners and the citizens of our community to stop criminal activity at our borders, be it land, air or sea.” 

On June 6, CBP officers met the cruise ship and their security team during their maintenance stop at Port Everglades. The white powder substance field tested positive for cocaine and was secured by Customs and Border Protection.

While the cruise ship was at port, the CBP Advanced Tactical Cargo Enforcement Team completed a thorough inspection of the vessel and no further contraband was located.

U. S. State Department Holding Special Passport Acceptance Fairs

The U. S. State Department will be hosting special passport fairs across the United States to help U. S. citizens apply for passports. Most events are for first-time customers and children using Form DS-11 to apply. The State Department recommends those that are eligible to renew their passport should do so by mail. 

Upcoming events

Broward County Clerk of CourtFt. LauderdaleFLSat, Jun 58am-2pmNo
Cedar County Recorder’s OfficeTiptonIATue, Jun 810am-5pmNo
Visalia Main Post OfficeVisaliaCASat, Jun 199am-2pmNo
Lyndhurst Community Center (Tontine & Riverside Ave.)LyndhurstNJMon, Jun 2110am-2pmNo
Cedar County Recorder’s OfficeTiptonIATue, Jun 2210am-5pmNo
Broward County Clerk of CourtFt. LauderdaleFLSat, Jun 268am-2pmNo
Fort Lee Recreation Center (1500 8th St.)Fort LeeNJMon, Jun 2810am-2pmNo
Special Passport Acceptance Fairs Locations and Dates

Ship Disaster Saga Continues off Sri Lanka

A fire on the ship MV X-Press Pearl anchored off the coast of Colombo beach of Sri Lanka, has been burning since May 20. It was made worse after an explosion several days after the initial fire broke out. Sri Lanka’s air force released images a week ago showing the ship in flames.

The ship was loaded with toxic chemicals like nitric acid, methane, and caustic soda. The cargo also included tons of plastic pellets that have gone overboard and are washing up on shore. ZSri Lanka’s Marine Protection authority has called the event “the worst beach pollution in our history.” Although some reports say the fire is contained, black smoke is continuing to be reported as billowing from the wreckage.

The ship is expected to sink.

SCA Seeks Damages from Ever Given’s Owners

The Suez Canal Authority (SCA) has demanded $916 million in compensation from owner of the  Ever Given, Japanese company Shoei Kisen, for damages and financial losses caused by the ship’s week-long blockage of the canal.

But on a week ago, an Egyptian court postponed a hearing in the suit filed by the Suez Canal authority, hoping more time for negotiations might help. The huge ship, one of the largest on the oceans, stopped the flow of ships through the canal when it became lodged across the passage.

The canal’s authority lost massive amounts of revenue but now says it is willing to come down from the initial compensation demand.

Ferry Boat Capsizes in Nigeria

A wooden ferry boat capsized near Wara, a town near Kainji Lake which is part of the Niger River in the state of Kebbi, Nigeria on Wednesday, May 26, 2021. The boast, carrying around 200 people, sank in the waters as it was ferrying people from Niger. Casualties are reported but it remains unclear how many lives were lost and how many people were saved, however reports say that dozens are likely dead.

Japan Bars Six Additional Countries from Entering

Foreign nationals from Thailand, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, the Seychelles, Mongolia, East Timor and Saint Lucia have all been added to 153 other countries that Japan has barred from entry into their country due to coronavirus. The measure took effect Friday, May 21, 2021. Japanese citizens who have traveled to those countries must quarantine for six days at a designated facility and take multiple tests before being allowed to move freely in the country.

Returning to the United States on an Expired U.S. Passport Possible in Temporary Exemption

The Biden administration is allowing U. S. citizens with expired passports to return to the U. S. Citizens with recently expired passports will be able to return until the end of the year. There were more than usual due to the pandemic.

“U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers will accept for admission certain expired U.S. passports, thereby assisting U.S. citizens who have been affected by appointment backlogs at embassies and consulates overseas caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” a notice issued early this week said. “Recently expired passports cannot be used to travel from the United States to an international destination or to travel to a foreign country for any length of stay longer than an airport connection en route to the United States or to a United States territory.”

Not all expired passports will be eligible for the temporary waiver. All travelers should check to see if they are eligible before firming up travel arrangements.

To qualify for this exception you must meet all of the following requirements:

  • Be a U.S. citizen.
  • Currently abroad seeking direct return to the United States.
  • Flying directly to the United States, a United States territory, or have only short-term transit (“connecting flights”) through a foreign country on your direct return to the United States or to a United States Territory.
  • The expired passport was originally valid for 10 years. Or, if you were 15 years of age or younger when the passport was issued, your expired passport was valid for 5 years.
  • The expired passport is undamaged.
  • The expired passport is unaltered.
  • The expired passport is in your possession.

More information is available on the U. S. State Department website.

Leidos Completes Acquisition of Gibbs & Cox

Leidos Holdings has completed the acquisition of Gibbs & Cox for approximately $380 million in cash. The transaction was previously announced in February. Gibbs & Cox will operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary and will be combined with Leidos’ maritime systems division.

Headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, Gibbs & Cox is the largest independent ship design firm focused on naval architecture and marine engineering. The company’s world class naval architects, designers, engineers and program managers develop innovative vessel designs and naval capabilities. Leidos says the acquisition positions them to provide a broad set of engineering solutions to the US Navy and to an expanding set of foreign Navies.

“We are delighted to welcome the Gibbs & Cox team to the Leidos family,” said Leidos chairman and CEO Roger Krone. “Gibbs & Cox is widely regarded for developing the most talented and experienced naval designers in the world. We look forward to this new era of innovation while combining the best of both companies.”

“We are excited to join Leidos, whose employee culture and history of innovation strongly mirror our own legendary 91-year history,” said Chris Deegan, Gibbs & Cox resident and chief executive. “Gibbs & Cox will remain the nation’s largest independent provider of maritime services. The combination of our world-class naval architecture, design and engineering services with Leidos’ speed, security and scale will significantly enhance our combined offerings in the fast growing maritime undersea, autonomous and cyber security segments. We look forward to mapping a new Gibbs & Cox with Leidos for the next 90 years.”

Boy Attempts Water Crossing from Morocco to Spanish Territory Using Plastic Bottles for Flotation

In a week (from May 17-23), approximately 8000 people attempted to migrate from Morocco to a Spanish territory, Cueta, on the African mainland, including a 14-year-old boy using plastic bottles as a flotation device. Footage played in the media showed the boy swimming and clinging to a buoy. The coverage of the mass exodus captured the boy, crying but making it to shore and removing the soda bottles which were stuffed in his pants and tied around his waist.

It is said that African officials removed guards and allowed the mass influx to make a point about a feud over Spain providing medical treatment to “a militant leader who has been fighting Morocco for decades” according to reports.

The boy, filmed and photographed by media, was captured by the Spanish authorities and processed for return to Morocco. Spanish authorities are processing and returning most of the migrants, many of whom vow to try again. About 2000 of the migrants were unaccompanied minor children. “A large arrival of people is not an excuse for illegal collective expulsion. Amongst those 5,000 summarily returned there may be individuals eligible for asylum or in need of protection. Pushing people back is unlawful and denies them their right to a fair and individualized evaluation of their asylum claims,” said Virginia Álvarez, head of Internal Policy and researcher at Amnesty International Spain.

VERIFLY’S Digital Wallet to Accept Vaccine Health Credential Globally

VeriFLY, a digital wallet created to help travelers and event attendees quickly meet their destination’s COVID-19 requirements, is now offering the ability to upload vaccination cards as part of their secure digital health credentials.

“VeriFLY is committed to establishing digital interfaces to global sources of verifiable clinical information, including proof of vaccines, as they become available,” said Daon CEO Tom Grissen. “To ensure the equitable inclusion of all travelers in meeting their current COVID-19 requirements, VeriFLY is immediately offering the ability to upload vaccination cards as part of their secure digital health credentials to ensure a digital divide does not exacerbate health inequities.”

The VeriFLY app continues to grow in popularity around the world. Now with more than 800,000 active users departing from more than 60 countries on six continents, VeriFLY provides clear information in one place that customers and governments can trust. It enables customers to complete all travel requirements in one simple app while securing data and safeguarding confidential information.

“We are gratified that travelers and event attendees around the world have turned to VeriFLY to assist in their life journeys as we begin to see a return to normalcy,” Grissen added. “The VeriFLY app will help not only with air travel, but also at conventions, sporting events and concerts. We envision a world where your VeriFLY digital wallet will provide access to the places you and your family want to visit. And the ability to accept a vaccine health credential will accelerate opportunities to resume activities we’ve all dearly missed.”

Starting today, American Airlines – the first airline to offer VeriFLY to its customers – will provide travelers the option to use the VeriFLY app to securely upload their vaccine documentation for travel to El Salvador, Guatemala and the Bahamas. Travelers can simply upload a photo of both sides of their COVID-19 vaccine record into the app. The VeriFLY team will review that all documentation meets the destination requirements.

Grissen noted that Daon has trained professionals that can analyze vaccination cards prior to a customer arriving at the airport, giving them a streamlined travel experience.

“Daon’s design team is using digital comparative analysis in combination with human review to help guard against the use of fraudulent documents,” Grissen added. “As more and more travelers upload vaccination cards and test results our algorithms will only get more accurate and effective. We believe we can train our algorithms to help combat fraud at scale, however, the ultimate goal should be for government and other parties to come together and create sources of verifiable credentials. As an industry leader for more than 20 years, we feel Daon can play a role in bringing these parties together.”