MSC Gayane Crew Member Pleads Guilty to Cocaine Trafficking Stemming from One of the Largest Drug Seizures in U.S. History

Cranes unload the freight ship MSC Gayane, after US authorities seized more than 16 tons of cocaine at the Packer Marine Terminal in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on June 18, 2019. (DOMINICK REUTER/AFP via Getty Images)

MSC Gayane Crew Member Pleads Guilty to Cocaine Trafficking Stemming from One of the Largest Drug Seizures in U.S. History

Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Pennsylvania; Monday, June 15, 2020

PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney William M. McSwain announced that Vladimir Penda, 27, of the country of Montenegro, entered a plea of guilty before United States District Court Judge Harvey Bartle III on charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine on a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.

In 2019, Penda, a crew member who worked on board the shipping vessel MSC Gayane as the ship’s fourth engineer, conspired with others to engage in bulk cocaine smuggling. On multiple occasions during the MSC Gayane’s voyage at sea, crew members, including Penda, helped load bulk cocaine onto the vessel from speedboats that approached under cover of darkness, traveling at high speeds. Crew members used the Gayane’s crane to hoist cargo nets full of cocaine onto the vessel and then stashed the drugs in various shipping containers.

On June 17, 2019, federal, state, and local law enforcement agents boarded the MSC Gayane when it arrived at Packer Marine Terminal in Philadelphia and seized approximately 20 tons of cocaine on the ship, with a street value of over $1 billion. This was one of the largest drug seizures in U.S. history.

“Federal agents found nearly 20 tons of cocaine hidden on this ship when it arrived in the port of Philadelphia in June 2019,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “Over the past year, prosecutors in my Office, in conjunction with our partner agencies, have been working non-stop to pursue justice in this case in order to protect our district and our country. We want to send a strong message to criminals around the world that Philadelphia is not a safe harbor for their deadly drug trafficking.”

“Mr. Penda’s guilty plea is a testament to Homeland Security Investigations commitment to holding all those involved in the transnational drug smuggling investigation aboard the MSC Gayane accountable,” said Brian A. Michael, Special Agent in Charge for HSI Philadelphia. “HSI, in collaboration with CBP, the Coast Guard, and our other federal, state and local law enforcement partners, are committed to the detection and disruption of transnational drug smuggling, and will continue to work in concert with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to keep our communities safe.”

“Mr. Penda’s plea agreement reinforces the notion that there are severe consequences for trafficking large amounts of dangerous drugs, such as this record-breaking cocaine seizure, into our communities,” said Casey Durst, CBP’s Director of Field Operations in Baltimore. “Customs and Border Protection remains steadfast on our nation’s borders, and arm-in-arm with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners, to protect our communities.”

The defendant faces a maximum possible sentence of lifetime imprisonment.

The case is being investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and the United States Customs and Border Protection, together with a multi-agency team of federal, state, and local partners.

Leave a Reply

SSCP   CAS-002   9L0-066   350-050   642-999   220-801   74-678   642-732   400-051   ICGB   c2010-652   70-413   101-400   220-902   350-080   210-260   70-246   1Z0-144   3002   AWS-SYSOPS   70-347   PEGACPBA71V1   220-901   70-534   LX0-104   070-461   HP0-S42   1Z0-061   000-105   70-486   70-177   N10-006   500-260   640-692   70-980   CISM   VCP550   70-532   200-101   000-080   PR000041   2V0-621   70-411   352-001   70-480   70-461   ICBB   000-089   70-410   350-029   1Z0-060   2V0-620   210-065   70-463   70-483   CRISC   MB6-703   1z0-808   220-802   ITILFND   1Z0-804   LX0-103   MB2-704   210-060   101   200-310   640-911   200-120   EX300   300-209   1Z0-803   350-001   400-201   9L0-012   70-488   JN0-102   640-916   70-270   100-101   MB5-705   JK0-022   350-060   300-320   1z0-434   350-018   400-101   350-030   000-106   ADM-201   300-135   300-208   EX200   PMP   NSE4   1Z0-051   c2010-657   C_TFIN52_66   300-115   70-417   9A0-385   70-243   300-075   70-487   NS0-157   MB2-707   70-533   CAP   OG0-093   M70-101   300-070   102-400   JN0-360   SY0-401   000-017   300-206   CCA-500   70-412   2V0-621D   70-178   810-403   70-462   OG0-091   1V0-601   200-355   000-104   700-501   70-346   CISSP   300-101   1Y0-201   200-125  , 200-125  , 100-105  , 100-105  , CISM   NS0-157   350-018  , NS0-157   ICBB  , N10-006 test  , 350-050   70-534   70-178   220-802   102-400   000-106   70-411  , 400-101   100-101  , NS0-157   1Z0-803   200-125  , 210-060   400-201   350-050   C_TFIN52_66  , JN0-102  , 200-355   JN0-360   70-411   350-018  , 70-412   350-030   640-916   000-105   100-105  , 70-270  , 70-462   300-070  , 300-070   642-999   101-400   PR000041   200-101  , 350-030   300-070  , 70-270  , 400-051   200-120   70-178   9L0-012   70-487   LX0-103   100-105  ,