CHRISTIANSTED – Four mostly elderly Guyanese men admitted in federal court that they tried to smuggle 8,300 pounds of cocaine into the Caribbean.
Mohamed Hoseain, 70, and Richard La Cruz, 51, each of Georgetown, pleaded guilty on Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Golden Rock to possession of cocaine on board a vessel, U.S. Attorney Gretchen C.F. Shappert said today.
Neville Jeffrey, 66, and Mark Anthony Williams, 32, also of Guyana, pleaded guilty on Thursday and today respectively, in federal court to the same offense, according to Shappert.
According to plea agreements filed with the court, the United States Coast Guard Cutter Napier, on February 16, 2017, intercepted a suspicious vessel in a joint operation with the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard approximately seventy nautical miles north of Paramaribo, Suriname, in international waters.
The vessel, later identified as the LADY MICHELLE, was located in a known drug trafficking route and registered with St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The U.S. Coast Guard boarded the vessel pursuant to a bilateral agreement between the United States and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
They discovered 185 bales containing numerous rectangular shaped packages of cocaine in the vessel’s fish hold weighing 3,769 kilograms (8,309 pounds).
The drugs had a street value in the U.S. Virgin Islands of approximately 71 million dollars.
Hoseain was identified as the captain and claimed that they were in search of a missing vessel for two months. La Cruz was identified as the engineer and Jeffrey and Williams as crew members.
Hoseain, La Cruz, Jeffrey and Williams face up to life imprisonment for the offense and a fine of up to $10,000,000.
Sentencing dates for Hoseain and La Cruz have been set for March 28, 2019 and March 29, 2019 respectively; and for Jeffrey and Williams for April 3, 2019.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Coast Guard, the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).