17 Sep, 2019 @ 18:28
2 mins read

Retired British couple with Alicante home to tell court ‘mystery businessman called Lee’ funded lavish lifestyle despite being arrested with €1 million worth of cocaine in suitcase on luxury cruise

A RETIRED British couple arrested with nearly €1 million worth of cocaine on a luxury cruise will claim a mystery ‘Jamaican businessman’ funded their lavish lifestyle, court papers reveal.

Roger and Sue Clarke were planning on taking another €4,500 two-week trip from Cuba to the Caribbean and back to their home in Alicante before Portuguese police arrested them in Lisbon in December last year.

A handwritten diary by Sue Clarke and made public today reads: “March 12 2019. 16 days. Fly to Havana, Cuba. Cruise to Philipsburg, St Maarten; St John, Antigua and Barbados; Funchal, Madeira; Malaga, Alicante. Approx £4,000.”

The trips come despite the Clarkes living on an income of just €1,000 a month.

The couple are due to appear in a Lisbon court today and will face up to 12 years in prison for drug smuggling.

ON TRAIL: The Clarkes are due to appear in court today

But papers show former chef Roger, 72, and his wife will point the finger at a mystery businessman named ‘Lee’.

The pair told police a mystery entrepreneur ‘of Jamaican origin’ paid for their €7,700 cruise that took them to Lisbon.

Mr Clarke claimed the businessman asked him to pick up empty new suitcases in St Lucia and then buy exotic fruit that could be sold for a ‘massive profit’ in the UK.

The Clarkes, who also have a house in Bromley, Kent, were then arrested by Portuguese police acting on a tip-off when their cruise liner MC Marco Polo docked in Lisbon.

Officers discovered cocaine hidden inside the lining of their four travel cases in cabin 469.

HIDDEN: The Clarkes had nearly 1 million euros of cocaine inside four travel cases when arrest in Lisbon

The Clarkes have been held in separate prisons in Portugal for the past nine and a half months, awaiting trial.

A Portuguese police report said: “There is no doubt Roger and Susan Clarke had contact with drugs trafficking organisations during two trips in 2017 and another they made in 2018.

“They were made to South America, to countries which were linked to the transport of cocaine to Europe.

‘While they made their first trip at the beginning of 2017 by plane, they made subsequent trips on cruise ships which allowed them to carry a larger amount of drugs.”

Portuguese police Inspector Carla Nunes insisted it made ‘no sense’ that mystery businessman paid for the cruise.

She said that Mr Clarke was unable to provide police with a phone number, email or name of any import-export firms the businessman entrepreneur was involved in.

Nunes added: “The age of the suspects added to the fact they were a married couple could lead one to suspect these cruises were really for fun when in truth they were part of an illicit project and their behaviour was designed just to make easy money with high profit.

“They could both have been making between nearly €20,000 and €30,000 plus expenses per trip.’

The Clarkes were jailed in Norway in 2010 for trafficking 240kg of cannabis resin on another cruise.

Joshua Parfitt

Joshua James Parfitt is the Costa Blanca correspondent for the Olive Press. He holds a gold-standard NCTJ in multimedia journalism from the award-winning News Associates in Twickenham. His work has been published in the Sunday Times, Esquire, the Mail on Sunday, the Daily Mail, the Sun, the Sun on Sunday, the Mirror, among others. He has appeared on BBC Breakfast to discuss devastating flooding in Spain, as well as making appearances on BBC and LBC radio stations.

Contact me now: joshua@theolivepress.es or call +44 07960046259. Twitter: @jjparfitt

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