On Jan. 11, a federal jury in Miami convicted Charles Thomas and Darryl Bell of attempting to possess with intent to distribute 100 kilograms of cocaine after a four-day trial before U.S. Dist. Judge Federico A. Moreno (S.D. Fla., H.W. Bush). At the time of arrest, both were members of the Int’l Longshoremen Ass’n. Thomas and Bell face a statutory maximum penalty of life imprisonment. Sentencings are scheduled for Mar. 22, 2002, commencing at 9:00 a.m. before Moreno. Previously on Oct. 26, co-defendant, Joseph Cobb, pled guilty to drug charges and was sentenced by Moreno on Jan. 9 to 46 months in prison.
This was a part of a probe where federal agents placed approximately 100 kilograms of “sham” cocaine within the confines of a 20-foot cargo container. There were a series of recorded conversation between a confidential source and the defendants. During the course of these conversations, the defendants agreed to off-load the cocaine at the Port of Miami. On Feb. 15, 2000, video surveillance showed Thomas placing a 40-foot container perpendicular to the container containing the kilograms of cocaine in an effort to conceal the activity of co-conspirators Cobb and Bell. The video surveillance inside the container also showed Cobb and Bell entering the container, searching for the boxes containing the “sham” cocaine, removing them from the container, and then placing the “sham” cocaine in the confidential source’s vehicle to be transported out of the Port of Miami. [USAO S.D. Fla. 1/14/02]