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Contraband
01/13/2011

St. Lucie county resident sentenced to 14 years in prison for drug smuggling

FORT PIERCE, Fla. - Timothy Edward Dawson, 44, of Port Saint Lucie, Fla., was sentenced to 14 years in prison following an investigation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

U.S. District Judge Jose E. Martinez sentenced Dawson to 168 months in prison followed by five years of supervised release.

On Sept. 4, 2010, members of the Martin County Sheriff's Office Marine Unit received information regarding a vessel from the Bahamas possibly containing illegal narcotics approaching the St. Lucie Inlet from the Bahamas. Deputies located the vessel, a 1984 Wellcraft center console boat, approximately two miles off the coast of Martin County.

As deputies were attempting to board the vessel, Timothy Dawson, who was operating the vessel, threw two weighted dive bags overboard. Deputies immediately marked the location and activated the sheriff's office dive team. Dive team members responded to the scene but were unable to locate the bags at that time. Dawson was arrested on state charges for resisting arrest without violence and tampering with evidence. The vessel was taken as evidence.

On Sept. 5, 2010, dive team members returned to the ocean location and retrieved two dive bags. Each bag was weighted with a 40 pound weight tied by a length of rope to the bag. The bags contained more than 30 pounds of cocaine and more than 39 pounds of marijuana, both with a combined street value of approximately $1.2 million.

Subsequently, Timothy Dawson was federally charged with possession with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine.

The investigation was conducted by ICE HSI in Ft. Pierce, the Martin County Sheriff's Office, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Air and Marine and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The case was being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Diana M. Acosta.