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Federal jury finds Caribbean narcotics traffickers guilty

TAMPA, Fla. – A federal jury found two drug traffickers guilty Thursday on two counts of violating the U.S. Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Act. This investigation was conducted by the Panama Express Strike Force, an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, which includes U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Yugool Persaud, 61, of Guyana, and Desmond Wilson, 54, of Guyana, face up to life in federal prison.

According to testimony and evidence presented at trial, a U.S. Coast Guard law enforcement detachment onboard Wave Knight, a British Royal Fleet auxiliary ship, observed a suspicious fishing vessel, Miss Tiffany, transiting a known drug trafficking corridor in the Caribbean Sea. When Wave Knight called over the radio, Miss Tiffany began evasive maneuvers, while jettisoning white bales overboard. U.S. Coast Guard boarding teams recovered 1,265 kilograms of marijuana from the jettison fields, boarded the boat named Miss Tiffany and detained Persaud and Wilson. Both men were turned over to special agents from the Panama Express Strike Force.

Persaud and Wilson were indicted Sept. 5. They are scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 20, 2014.

In addition to HSI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Internal Revenue Service, the FBI, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement participate in the Panama Express Strike Force. Operation Panama Express currently targets South American-based drug trafficking organizations responsible for smuggling drugs to the United States and elsewhere for distribution.