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2 plead guilty to importing 300 kilograms of cocaine into the U.S.

WEST PLAM BEACH, Fla. - Mark Pinder and Parson Exana pleaded guilty today for conspiring to import cocaine into the United States from the Bahamas. Both men face a minimum sentence of 10 years to life in prison and a fine of $4 million.

The guilty pleas are the result of a multi-agency effort between U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Jupiter Police Department, the Boca Raton Police Department and the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office.

On May 25, 2009, ICE special agents conducted an undercover enforcement operation on the high seas and received approximately 297 kilograms of cocaine from Pinder, a Bahamian citizen, in a vessel-to-vessel transfer. The cocaine was subsequently transported to Palm Beach County. On May 26, 2009, law enforcement agents and officers conducted a controlled delivery of the 297 kilograms of cocaine to Pinder and Exana in Jupiter, Florida. Pinder and Exana were arrested at that time.

Mark Pinder pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks on August 12 and Parson Exana pleaded guilty before Judge Middlebrooks on August 18.

The multi-agency investigation targeted individuals who use maritime vessels to smuggle drugs into South Florida from the Bahamas.

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