Government Contractor Accused Of Plotting To Sell Drugs On Cruise

By Keri Blakinger 02/11/19

The contractor allegedly laid out the details of the drug-dealing scheme on his work computer.

people on a cruise where drugs may be sold

Two would-be tourists were collared earlier this month in Miami as they boarded a gay cruise, where officials said they planned to sell drugs. 

Peter Melendez and Robert Koehler allegedly hatched the idea in a series of emails before the ship was set to sail. They were caught, according to NBC News, because one of the men worked as a government contractor and sent the messages from his work computer. 

When authorities picked them up, they allegedly had 27 grams of MDMA, 18 grams of ketamine, 246 grams of the “date rape drug” GHB, 7 grams of Viagra and 5 grams of the ADHD medication Adderall in their luggage.

It’s not clear when the emails were sent or what, exactly, they said. But, according to a police report, it was Melendez’ decision to send them from his work computer that flagged the interest of Homeland Security investigators. Reports did not specify which agency Melendez worked for. 

The men are due to be arraigned sometime in March.

Last year, 38-year-old Storm Chasers star Joel Taylor overdosed on a gay cruise. In the hours before he died on an Atlantis Events-chartered ship, other passengers reported spotting him so drugged up he needed help back to his room. His death later sparked a broader discussion about drug use on party ships, and some dinged the floating festivities for failing to embrace harm reduction efforts that could prevent future fatalities. 

“The comments online say people need to take responsibility for their own actions—if they use drugs, they’re responsible—and I completely agree with that,” LGBTQ activist Jim Key told Quartz. “But because the promoters know that there are people at their parties who are going to be doing drugs, they share some responsibility there. If you say you have zero tolerance for drugs, that’s not going to stop people from using drugs—but it is going to stop people from seeking treatment.”

At the time, the CEO of Atlantis—which brands itself as the world’s biggest gay and lesbian cruise producer—told the online news outlet that the company went to great lengths to ensure guest safety and offered full medical facilities and an intensive care unit on each ship. And, he added, medical staff don’t share information with the police.

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Keri Blakinger is a former drug user and current reporter living in Texas. She covers breaking news for the Houston Chronicle and previously worked for the New York Daily News and the Ithaca Times. She has written about drugs and criminal justice for the Washington Post, Salon, Quartz and more. She loves dogs and is not impressed by rodeo food. Find Keri on LinkedIn and Twitter.