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Four charged with smuggling cocaine under muumuus

Tried to smuggle more than 6 kilos of cocaine

(Photo: Royal Caribbean International)

PORT CANAVERAL, Fla. – Four women have been charged with conspiracy to import cocaine on a cruise ship that docked in Port Canaveral in May, according to a criminal complaint filed with the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

Authorities said Lakisha Abney, Shawnta Aiken, Ciera Bryant all of Washington, D.C., and Shenique Milbourne, of Fort Washington, Maryland, were all charged with trying to smuggle more than 6 kilos of cocaine underneath loose-fitting muumuus "on or about May 8, 2016, and continuing until on or about May 15, 2016."

News 6 partner Florida Today reports police say the four traveled aboard the Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas that departed from Port Canaveral on May 8 and included stops in: Haiti,  Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Mexico.

When they returned on May 15, police say Bryant was asked if she was traveling alone. She replied that she was traveling with friends but that she wasn't sure where they were.

She was wearing a loose-fitting dress and said her friends were similarly dressed.

Additionally, officials noted Bryant's hands were shaking, her voice wavered and she avoided eye contact with agents.

Following that, she was patted down and an officer discovered five, clear vacuum-sealed packages concealed under undergarments. The packages contained a white powdery substance that field-tested positively for the presence of cocaine.

In all, police found more than 6.6 kilograms of drugs on the women.

A pat-down of the other three suspects also revealed similar packages.

In an interview following their arrests, Milbourne said she was given an opportunity by a man to go on a free cruise, which she accepted. She also stated she did not know Abney or Bryant, though they all stayed in the same cabin on the trip.

While in Jamaica, the women went to the beach and met a man in a van. She says that one of the women gave the man a large stack of money and the man gave them a bag, which Milbourne stated contained "the bra and underwear with all that stuff (cocaine) in it."

Bryant stated in a post-Miranda interview that Abney offered her $2,000 to go on the cruise and bring back a "small gift" and she thought that the "small gift" would be a small quantity of drugs.