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Press Release

New York Man Pleads Guilty To Smuggling Cocaine From Panama To Florida

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Florida

Tampa, FL – United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg announces that Egbert Philip (58, New York) has pleaded guilty to conspiring to import more than five kilograms of cocaine into the United States. He faces a minimum mandatory term of 10 years, up to life, in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

According to the plea agreement, in April 2022 at the seaport in Colon, Panama, coconspirators loaded a container vessel with 15 kilograms of cocaine inside a refrigeration unit to avoid detection. On April 26, 2022, the vessel arrived in Port Everglades, Florida. Philip assisted with securing personnel at the port to offload the 15 kilograms of cocaine for further distribution, but law enforcement seized it.

The conspirators tried again in November 2022. This time, they hid 112 kilograms of cocaine on the container vessel. Philip was the intended recipient of the cocaine, and on December 7, 2022, he tried to receive the cocaine in Sarasota, Florida for further distribution throughout the state. However, he was arrested shortly after he loaded the cocaine into his car.

This case was investigated by the Panama Express Strike Force, an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) comprised of agents and analysts from the United States Coast Guard Investigative Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, and U.S. Southern Command's Joint Interagency Task Force South. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. The Sarasota Police Department also provided valuable assistance and coordination for this case. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney David J. Pardo.

Updated December 22, 2023

Drug Trafficking