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2 charged with importation of cocaine into the U.S. from the Bahamas

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Two alleged drug traffickers were arrested and federally charged for attempting to import 297 kilograms of cocaine into the United States following a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)-led investigation. The joint investigation targeted individuals who use maritime vessels to smuggle drugs into South Florida from the Bahamas.

Mark Pinder, 41, a Bahamian citizen, and Parson Exana, 38, were charged with conspiracy to import cocaine into the United States. They made their initial appearances in federal court on May 27, 2009, and were detained pending a pre-trial detention hearing. If convicted, each faces a minimum sentence of 10 years to life in prison and a fine of $4 million.

According to the charges, on May 25, 2009, ICE special agents conducted an undercover operation on the high seas, and received approximately 297 kilograms of cocaine from Pinder in a vessel-to-vessel transfer. The cocaine was thereafter transported to Palm Beach County. On May 26, 2009, ICE special agents, with the assistance of law enforcement partners, conducted a controlled delivery of the 297 kilograms of cocaine to Pinder and Exana in Jupiter, Fla. Pinder and Exana were thereafter arrested.

The seizure and arrests were the result of a combined operation involving ICE's Office of Investigations in West Palm Beach, the FBI's West Palm Beach Division, DEA Ft. Lauderdale, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations, Jupiter Police Department, Boca Raton Police Department and the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Shaniek Maynard.