$20m in cocaine unloaded in Boston

It was an unusual “catch” to unload on a dock.

(Petty Officer 2nd Class Rob Simpson)

Members of the Coast Guard, Drug Enforcement Administration, State Police, and other law enforcement agencies offloaded a massive haul of more than $20 million worth of cocaine from the deck of the Coast Guard cutter Dependable on Friday, the Coast Guard said.

The drugs were seized, and two drug smuggling suspects arrested, by the Coast Guard during an at-sea interdiction on Sept. 2 about 460 miles east of Cape Cod, authorities said.

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The men aboard the 49-foot sailing vessel Callisto, which was bearing a new name, Elegance, told the Coast Guard they were headed to Montreal to deliver the boat to its new owner, authorities said.

Hicham Ramzi Nahra, 27, of Canada, and Benjamin Celma-Sedo, 49, of Spain, are facing charges in US District Court in Boston with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute on board a vessel subject to US jurisdiction.

Authorities said approximately 1,390 pounds of cocaine were discovered on the boat. After receiving permission from the Canadian government to board the vessel, Coast Guard crew members reported that they found nearly two dozen large, heavy plastic mesh bags containing packages of cocaine.

The Coast Guard cutter, with a DEA agent aboard, went looking for the boat on Aug. 29 after receiving an all-points bulletin from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, according to a sworn statement filed in support of the charges by a Massachusetts State Police sergeant assigned to the Drug Enforcement Administration. The affidavit did not say how the Mounties knew the boat might be suspicious.

Nahra produced paperwork saying that the boat had been sold by a Maryland man to a Canadian man and its new name was Elegance. But the vessel had never been registered as a Canadian vessel, the affidavit said.

Nahra also told the Coast Guard that he had a previous conviction in Canada for marijuana trafficking, the affidavit said.

After a team of seven Coast Guard personnel boarded the boat, approximately 23 of the bags were found. Coast Guard crew “recognized the packages to contain contraband and appeared to be kilograms of cocaine,” the affidavit said. The contents of one “brick-shaped object” were field-tested twice; both times the test came back positive for cocaine.

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