GULFPORT, Miss. — Two Massachusetts men were sentenced to federal prison today, following an investigation conducted by special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), as part of the Gulf Coast Border Enforcement Security Taskforce (GC BEST).
J. Boone Ferri, 21, and Brian Parker, 28, both residents of Attleboro, Mass., were arrested on Nov. 21, 2010 aboard the motor vessel "Sarah Moira," an 80-foot steel-hulled sailboat, after GC BEST members intercepted the vessel and discovered 4,497 pounds of marijuana onboard.
Ferri was sentenced to serve 31 months in prison and five years of supervised release and Parker was sentenced to serve 41 months in prison and five years supervised release. The vessel's captain, James Staveley O-Carroll, 59, also arrested, has pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing.
"Drug smuggling is a serious crime motivated by greed and disregard for the law," said Raymond R. Parmer, Jr., special agent in charge of the ICE HSI office in New Orleans which oversees Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama, Tennessee and Louisiana. Ferri and Parker's sentences and the dismantling of the drug smuggling organization with which they were associated underscores how effective the BEST concept has proven to be. ICE will use its investigative resources to stop this type of activity, regardless of whether it is carried out by air, land or sea."
This case involved outstanding collaborative efforts of BEST members including ICE HSI (Gulf Coast and Southeast Coastal BEST); U.S. Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) Air & Marine Operations; CBP Office of Border Patrol; CBP Office of Field Operations; the U.S. Coast Guard and the Harrison County Sheriff's Office in Mississippi.
In response to the dramatic surge in cross-border crime and violence, due to intense competition between Mexican drug cartels and transnational criminal smuggling organizations, ICE has partnered with federal, state, local and foreign law enforcement counterparts to create a series of multi-agency teams, called BESTs, developed to identify, disrupt and dismantle criminal organizations posing significant threats to border security. Currently, there are 22 BEST teams with locations around the United States and in Mexico.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John Meynardie, Southern District of Mississippi.