Drug-Sniffing Dogs Take A Bite Out Of Jam-Band Cruise

Police tipped off by posts on cruise's message board.

It only took a few message-board blabbermouths to bum out the third annual Jam Cruise's otherwise joyful embarkation on Thursday.

As 1,800 fans boarded the Bahamas-bound ship at its port in Jacksonville, Florida, they were met by police and drug-sniffing dogs. A dozen people were arrested for attempting to pass through U.S. Customs with illegal substances.

The Jam Cruise is an annual four-day excursion that features performances, autograph sessions and related events with several major acts from the jam-band genre. This year's cruise featured Karl Denson's Tiny Universe, Galactic, Umphrey's McGee, Les Claypool's Frog Brigade and 20 other bands and DJs.

Kenneth Jefferson of the Jacksonville Sheriff's Department said that it is not standard procedure to search individuals with drug-sniffing dogs prior to their departure for a cruise. However, he said that police read posts on the Jam Cruise Web site's message board suggesting that drugs would be smuggled onto the boat.

Searches conducted by United States Customs officials, with the assistance of the Jacksonville Sheriff's Department, yielded an assortment of illegal substances, including ecstasy, marijuana, cocaine, heroin, hashish and brownies laced with marijuana.

Organizers of the Jam Cruise said they are not responsible for the arrests. "It is unfortunate that a few passengers used poor judgment," the organization's publicist, Carrie Lombardi, said in an official statement. "The boat sailed as planned, and it was a truly amazing musical adventure for artists and fans alike." The Jam Cruise Web site and information documents clearly advise patrons not to bring narcotics onto the ship.

Jefferson said that when the ship returned to Jacksonville on Monday (January 10), one passenger was rushed to a hospital, apparently suffering from a drug overdose that took place during the cruise.