May 27, 2024
Ex-MSC Crew Member Sentenced to Prison for Role in Record US Drug Bust
Ex-MSC Crew Member Sentenced to Prison for Role in Record US Drug Bust
– By Alison_Godswill

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Ex-MSC Crew Member Sentenced to Prison for Role in Record US Drug Bust

By OUR CORRESPONDENT

An MSC GAYANE crewmember has been sentenced to five years and ten months in prison by a U.S District Court, according to FleetMon.

It stated: “Judge Harvey Bartle III sentenced the Montenegro citizen, Vladimir Penda, 27 to the above judgment. Additionally, he was given two years of supervised release on charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute.

“This brings the total number of former crew members who pleaded guilty to taking part in the smuggling operation to eight.

“The smuggling operation, intercepted by US federal, state, and local law enforcement, was one of the largest drug seizures in U.S history. Besides, it was the largest catch in the history of Customs and Border Protection.”

Acting U.S. Attorney Williams said, “It has been nearly two years since federal agents conducted one of the largest drug seizures in the U.S. history. The follow-up investigation uncovered dark-of-night, clandestine drug trafficking conduct which read like a movie plot, and prosecutors in our office have been working non-stop since then to pursue justice in this case.”

Hinting at the possible end of a federal investigation into the smuggling operation, he added, “With Mr. Penda’s just sentence being handed down today, this chapter of the MSC GAYANE saga is now coming to a close.”

Mediterranean Shipping Corporation, the owner of the vessel, paid a hefty $50 million, with the ship being released hereafter.

Before calling on the port of Philadelphia, the ship made stops at Chile, Peru, Panama, and the Bahamas. It was destined for Northern Europe, making stops at Rotterdam, Antwerp, and Le Havre in the course.

Brian A. Michael, Special Agent in Charge for Homeland Security Investigations Philadelphia said, “This sends a clear message to criminals around the world that our critical infrastructure is not a safe harbor for drug trafficking.”

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