A United States District Court judge, on 11th June, 2021, handed seven years of prison sentence, to Bosko Markovic, 39, from Montenegro. This is one of the longest prison sentences served, in the U.S history, in drug smuggling cases. Previous servings have usually been between two to six years.
The incident happened in 2019, when 20 tons of cocaine, worth $1.3 billion USD was seized onboard the 9,962 TEU container-ship, from the port of Philadelphia, two years back (17th June, 2019). This is regarded as the largest cocaine bust in the history of the United States of America.
Nearly one-third of the vessel’s crew were arrested (eight crew members). This includes the chief mate, a second officer, an engine cadet, an electrician, an assistant reefer-man, and two seamen. Vladimir Penda, the fourth engineer of the vessel, was sentenced to five years and ten months in jail to be followed by two years of supervised release, on April, 2021.
During the hearing in a U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, the United States assistant district attorney reaffirmed, that the chief mate of the vessel played a critically important part in the smuggling operation. He oversaw all aspects of the ship’s daily operation. It’s said that he recruited the other members among the crew. He was the one who communicated with the South Americans supplying the cocaine. The cocaine was then brought aboard the vessel, at several points during the voyage, between Peru and Panama in duffle bags, and was hidden among the containers.
During the hearing, the lawyers representing Markovic, in his defense, said that the chief mate was recruited by the members of the drug cartel, and was promised approximately a million dollars for executing the operation (which equals to ten-times of his annual income).
Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), was not charged in the case. The company stated that they have spent more than $100 million on security improvements, after the case.