Colombian Man Pleads Guilty to Drug Importation Conspiracy Charge
TAMPA—United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces that Vinston Boxton-Moises (48, San Andres Island, Colombia, South America) today pleaded guilty to conspiring with others to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, knowing that the cocaine would be unlawfully imported into the United States. Boxton faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in federal prison and up to a maximum term of life imprisonment.
According to the plea agreement, between 2010 and 2013, Boxton was a knowing and willing participant in an ongoing plan to smuggle cocaine by sea. The cocaine was ultimately destined for unlawful importation into the United States. Boxton’s roles in the conspiracy included recruiting and paying mariners and mechanics, contracting for the use of smuggling and lookout/logistics vessels, and dispatching cocaine-laden go-fast vessels (GFVs).
Boxton is accountable for the GFV TAUPLY that was interdicted by the United States in the Caribbean Sea on May 31, 2012, approximately 85 nautical miles southeast of Nicaragua. The TAUPLY interdiction resulted in the seizure of approximately 1,000 kilograms of cocaine. Boxton arranged for the recruitment and payment of the mariners who ultimately operated TAUPLY and attempted to smuggle the cocaine. The government of Colombia consented to the enforcement of United States law over the TAUPLY, its illicit cargo (cocaine), and crew. The five mariners embarked in TAUPLY were successfully prosecuted in the United States for violations of the Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Act, first arriving at a place in the Middle District of Florida.
Boxton was arrested on San Andres Island, Colombia, in August 2013 and subsequently extradited to the United States for prosecution. As a direct result of his participation in the conspiracy, Boxton obtained at least $1 million in proceeds.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Christopher F. Murray.
It was investigated by the Panama Express North Strike Force, a standing Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation, composed of agents and analysts from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, and U.S. Southern Command’s Joint Interagency Task Force South. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs provided assistance with the extradition. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and those primarily responsible for the nation’s drug supply.