May 06, 2014
Contact: Public Information Officer
Phone Number: (571) 262-2887
Colombian Man Pleads Guilty To Drug Importation Conspiracy Charge
TAMPA, Fla. - Mark R. Trouville, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement (DEA), Miami Field Division, and A. Lee Bentley, III, United States Attorney for the Middle District of Florida, announces that Vinston Boxton-(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 (US). Boxton faces a mandatory minimum penalty of ten years in federal prison, 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 US. 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 (GFVs).
Boxton is accountable for the GFV TAUPLY that was interdicted by the US in the Caribbean Sea on May 31, 2012, approximately eighty-five 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 US law over the TAUPLY, its illicit (cocaine), and crew. The five mariners embarked in TAUPLY were successfully prosecuted in the US 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 US for prosecution. As a direct result of his participation in the conspiracy, Boxton obtained at least $1 million in proceeds.
This investigation was conducted by the Panama Express North Strike Force, comprised of agents and analysts from the DEA, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the US Coast Guard Investigative Service, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, and US Southern Command's Joint Interagency Task Force South.
The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs provided assistance with the extradition. The case is being prosecuted by US Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida.