News and Press Releases

Connecticut man found guilty of importing
cocaine into charleston Port

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 24, 2012

Contact Person: Nick Bianchi (843) 727-4381

Columbia, South Carolina ---- United States Attorney Bill Nettles stated today that Oscar Baptiste, of East Hartford, Connecticut, was convicted following a two day trial of importation of cocaine.  United States District Court Judge Richard M. Gergel presided over the case.
         
Evidence presented at trial established that Baptiste, while living in Connecticut, contacted an individual in South Carolina regarding plans to begin importing cocaine into the Port of Charleston from Panama.  That individual contacted law enforcement and began acting as a confidential informant for law enforcement.  Baptiste initially traveled to South Carolina on July 31, 2010 to meet with the informant; a meeting that was recorded and observed by law enforcement.
         
Evidence presented at trial showed that over the next several months, Baptiste engaged in email conversations with an undercover U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agent, discussing both plans for an initial shipment, as well as plans for future shipments of multiple kilograms of cocaine into the Port of Charleston from Panama.  Eventually, Baptiste returned to Charleston on March 21, 2011 and met with the informant in North Charleston, South Carolina. During this meeting, which was recorded and monitored by law enforcement, Baptiste told the informant which container aboard the Maersk Dallas container ship would contain a kilogram of cocaine, along with a description of how it would be packaged.
         
When the Maersk Dallas arrived at the Wando Terminal of the Port of Charleston the following day, agents removed the container and recovered the cocaine.  Evidence at trial showed this shipment was meant to be a test run to make sure the drugs could be offloaded successfully before continuing with larger shipments of cocaine.  Mr. Baptiste was later arrested at his home in East Hartford, Connecticut.

          Mr. Nettles stated that Baptiste is facing 5-40 years imprisonment.  Mr. Nettles stated that the case was investigated by agents of United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and United States Customs and Border Protection, 15th Circuit Drug Enforcement Unit and Assistant United States Attorney Nick Bianchi of the Charleston office prosecuted the case.          

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