43-year-old Goran Gogic, a former professional heavyweight boxer, was charged by the Department of Justice on Monday, Oct. 31, with trafficking over 20 tons of cocaine worth more than $1 billion through U.S. ports, most of which was part of one of the largest cocaine seizures in American history, said reports.

Gogic was arrested on Sunday, Oct. 30 after being indicted by a grand jury in New York, the Justice Department said in a news release. Gogic, who is from Montenegro, was arrested while trying to board a flight at Miami International Airport.

Gogic faces a mandatory minimum 10-year sentence and up to life in prison after being charged with three counts of violating the federal Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Act, and one count of conspiracy.

The charges are related to the three cocaine seizures, most notably 19.8 tons from a cargo ship in 2019 when it was docked at Philadelphia's Packer Avenue Marine Terminal. At the time, Ivan Durasevic, the ship's second mate, and Fonofaavae Tiasaga were arrested in the bust. The ship was on its way to the Netherlands.

According to the prosecution, Gogic and others utilized commercial cargo ships to move cocaine from Colombia to Europe through U.S. ports using "meticulous planning."

"Members of the conspiracy loaded the commercial cargo ships at night near the coast and ports, working with crewmembers who would hoist loads of cocaine from speedboats that approached the ships at multiple points along their route," prosecutors wrote.

The defendants allegedly loaded the drugs using nets and the ship's cranes. Once the cocaine was onboard, the crew would hide it within shipping containers, prosecutors said.

The complex operation involved having access to each ship's crew, route, real-time positioning, and geolocation data, prosecutors said.

Gogic is accused of orchestrating the operation by coordinating with crew members, Colombian traffickers, and European dockworkers.

After the massive bust in Philadelphia in 2019, U.S. Attorney William McSwain wrote on Twitter: "This is one of the largest drug seizures in United States history. This amount of cocaine could kill millions — MILLIONS — of people."

In a statement, U.S. Attorney Breon Peace called Gogic's arrest and indictment a "body blow to the organization and individuals responsible for distributing massive quantities of cocaine."

Representational image. Creative Commons

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