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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Massachusetts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, September 6, 2013

Two Men Found On Stateless Vessel In International Waters With Large Amount Of Cocaine

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BOSTON – Two men were arrested for transporting cocaine on a sailboat bound for Montreal.

Hicham Ramzi Nahra, 27, of Canada, and Benjamin Celma-Sedo, 49, of Spain, were charged today in a criminal complaint with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute on board a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.

The complaint alleges that by the United States Coast Guard found Nahra and Celm-Sedo on board a sailboat, named the Callisto, in international waters with 621 kilograms of cocaine. The cocaine has an approximate street value of more than $20 million.

On Sept. 2, the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Dependable interdicted the 49-foot sailing vessel Elegance, in international waters about 400 nautical miles east of the United States. The Elegance was flying a Canadian flag, but was determined to be a stateless vessel, and according to Canadian law enforcement authorities, was never registered as a Canadian vessel. It was also determined that the Elegance was in fact the Callisto, a sailing vessel whose last port of call was in Venezuela. After receiving permission from the Canadian government to board and search the Callisto, U.S. Coast Guard crew members found 23 large, heavy plastic mesh bags each containing 25-27 kilogram brick shaped packages containing cocaine.

If convicted, Nahra and Celma face a maximum term of 20 years in prison, a minimum of three years and up to a lifetime of supervised release and a $1 million fine.

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz; Rear Admiral Dan Abel, Commander in Charge of the First Coast Guard District; John J. Arvanitis, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Boston Field Division; and Bruce M. Foucart, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations in Boston made the announcement today. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Neil Gallagher of Ortiz’s Drug Task Force.