MSC Gayane

MSC Gayane at the Packer Mariner Terminal at the Port of Philadelphia. Credit: Michael t Mallon/delawareriveraerials.com

DOJ Charges Former Heavyweight Boxer for Smuggling Cocaine Worth Over $1 Billion on MSC Containerships

Mike Schuler
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October 31, 2022

The U.S. Department of Justice has charged a former heavyweight boxer with trafficking over 20 tons of cocaine on containerships linked to the world’s largest container shipping company.

An indictment unsealed Monday in federal court in Brooklyn charges Goran Gogic, of Montenegro, with one count of conspiracy to violate the Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Act and three counts of violating the Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Act. He was arrested last night as he attempted to board an international flight at the Miami International Airport.

Gogic is accused of conspiring with others to distribute massive quantities of cocaine in shipping containers transported by Mediterranean Sea Company (MSC) ships between May 2018 and July 2019. In one case involving the MSC Gayane, U.S. authorities at the Port of Philadelphia seized nearly 18 metric tons of cocaine valued over $1 billion—making for one of the largest seizures of cocaine in U.S. history.

According to the DOJ, Gogic coordinated with cocaine suppliers in Colombia, other crewmembers on the ships, and a network of port workers who transported and offloaded the cocaine in Europe via the United States.

The DOJ alleges Gogic and his co-conspirators used the ship’s cranes or nets to load the ships at night near the coast and ports, working with crewmembers who would hoist loads from speedboats that approached the ships at multiple points along their route. They then hid the drugs in specific shipping containers for which they had duplicate counterfeit seals and knew had sufficient room to conceal the large quantities of the drugs. The specific containers were selected based, in part, on the containers’ location and orientation, and route and destination on board the vessel, according to the DOJ.

“This complex operation relied on having to access to each ship’s crew, route, manifest, real-time positioning and geolocation data and a knowledge of what legitimate cargo is contained in each container,” the agency said in its announcement. “The conspiracy used a different set of workers with access to the ports in Europe to clandestinely access and remove the cocaine from the shipping containers upon their arrival.”

U.S. law enforcement officers seized three of the shipments:

  • The February 27, 2019 seizure of approximately 1,437 kilograms of cocaine secreted aboard the MSC Carlotta at the Port of New York and New Jersey;
  • The March 18, 2019 seizure of approximately 537 kilograms of cocaine secreted aboard the MSC Desiree at the Port of Philadelphia; and
  • The June 19, 2019 seizure of approximately 17,956 kilograms of cocaine secreted aboard the MSC Gayane at the Port of Philadelphia.

Officers also seized significant amounts of cocaine related to the scheme at ports in Panama, Peru, and the Netherlands, among other countries.

In the case of the MSC Gayane, a total of eight crew members (including the ship’s chief officer, second officer, engineers, and others) were arrested and have since pleaded guilty to charges in the case. No charges have been brought about against MSC or any other companies related to the shipments.

“The arrest and indictment of Gogic, a former boxer allegedly responsible for trafficking a staggering amount of cocaine, more than 20 tons, which he attempted to move through U.S. ports, is a resounding victory for law enforcement,” stated Breon Peace, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. “The meticulous planning by the defendant and his co-conspirators failed to take into account the federal agents whose hard work resulted in this body blow to the organization and individuals responsible for distributing massive quantities of cocaine.”

If convicted, Gogic faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and up to life in prison.

Gogic is expected to appear this afternoon in federal court in Miami and will be arraigned in the Eastern District of New York at a later date.

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