The US Department of Justice has charged a former heavyweight boxer with smuggling 22 tonnes of cocaine worth more than $1bn (£870m) in what is mostly one of the largest cocaine seizures in US history.
Goran Gogic, from Montenegro, was arrested Sunday night while trying to board a flight to Zurich from Miami International Airport after being indicted by a grand jury in New York.
Prosecutors charged the 43-year-old with three counts of violating the federal Maritime Drug Enforcement Act and one count of conspiracy.
Each charge carries a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison and a possible life sentence.
The allegations stem from the 2019 seizure of 19,930 kilograms (22 tons) of cocaine from three commercial cargo ships,
Including 17,956 kg (19.8 tons) of MSC Gayane when docked at the Park Avenue Marine Terminal in Philadelphia.
Prosecutors said the co-conspirators shipped cocaine from Colombia to Europe through U.S. ports, using cranes and nets at night to hoist the drugs from speedboats close to the ship’s course onto a cargo ship.
Prosecutors said the complex operation required knowledge of each ship’s crew, route and location data, and there was room for drugs in containers already on board.
According to court documents, Gogic oversaw logistics, coordinating with crew members, Colombian traffickers and European dockworkers to benefit himself and his Balkan cartel.
Lawrence Hashish, Gogic’s attorney, said: “The allegations came as a surprise to him. He maintained his innocence and came to the United States to attend a boxing convention in Puerto Rico.”
At least eight Gayane crew members have pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges.
According to online records, Gogic was a boxer who, from 2001 to 2012, won 21 fights and lost four with two draws.