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Contraband
09/11/2009

2 men charged with possession of 667 pounds of marijuana

MIAMI - Two men were arrested earlier this week by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents for possessing 667 pounds of marijuana.

Walter Pereira-Flores, 28, and Ricardo Graham, 24, were charged in a criminal complaint with possession with the intent to distribute 667 pounds of marijuana in violation of Title 46, U. S. Code, Section 70503.

Pereira-Flores and Graham made their initial appearances in federal court yesterday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Chris M. McAliley and were detained pending a pre-trial detention hearing, set for Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2009, at 10:00 a.m.

The announcement was made today by Jeffery H. Sloman, acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Anthony V. Mangione, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Miami and Rear Adm. Steve Branham, Commander, U.S. Coast Guard, 7th District.

According to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, on Sept. 9, 2009, the U.S. Coast Guard seized a 30-foot Sea Ray vessel, approximately 21 nautical miles southwest of Bimini, Bahamas. The U.S. Coast Guard cutter initially spotted the vessel drifting without navigational lights. As the cutter approached, the sailors observed Pereira throwing packages into the water. The packages were retrieved and found to contain 667 pounds of marijuana. ICE agents were contacted and Pereira-Flores and Graham were subsequently arrested.

If convicted, each defendant faces a minimum sentence of five years imprisonment and maximum sentence of 40 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $2,000,000.

Sloman commended the investigative efforts of ICE's Office of Investigations in Miami and the U.S. Coast Guard. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney Cynthia Wood.