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Longshoreman sentenced to 180 months for conspiracy to distribute cocaine

NEWARK, N.J. – A longshoreman was sentenced Friday in U.S. District Court to180 months in prison for his role in an international drug smuggling conspiracy which led to the seizure of more than 1.3 metric tons of cocaine, valued at over $34 million. The sentencing follows a multi-agency investigation which included the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigation's (HSI) Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST), the Drug Enforcement Administration New Jersey Field Division, and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations, with the assistance of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Shon Norville, 40, of Brooklyn, N.Y., was sentenced Oct. 10 by U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero to 15 years in federal prison and five years of supervised release. In addition, Norville was ordered to forfeit more than $180,000 in illegal proceeds to the United States.

According to court records, the initial arrest of Norville October 5, 2010, was the result of an investigation into a Panamanian drug trafficking organization (DTO) that was importing hundred-kilogram shipments of cocaine. The cocaine was hidden inside shipping containers traveling through the Panama Canal destined for the Port of New Jersey/New York. It was then distributed in and throughout the Bronx and Manhattan, among other places. During the course of the investigation, federal and Panamanian law enforcement authorities identified a freight forwarding operation that removed the cocaine-laden containers from secure areas of the port, and seized more than 1.3 metric tons of cocaine from the Panamanian DTO and at the port itself, valued at over $34 million.

The investigation later identified a local DTO, led by Norville, which received hundreds of kilograms of cocaine smuggled into the United States from Panama in shipping containers. Norville used his access to the port and his relationships with other longshoremen, to bribe longshoremen to remove the drugs from shipping containers upon the cocaine's arrival in the United States. An extensive wiretap investigation revealed that Norville smuggled or attempted to smuggle over 125 kilograms of cocaine, worth over $3 million wholesale, into the United States in 2010 via shipping containers. Law enforcement agents recovered two guns and hollow-point bullets from Norville's residence when he was arrested in October 2010.

Norville pleaded guilty May 18, 2012, to the charge of conspiring to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Theodore H. Katz.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Howard Master and Sarah Paul, Southern District of New York, prosecuted the case.

In January 2006, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) adopted the BEST initiative as a DHS task force in order to leverage federal, state, local, tribal and international law enforcement and intelligence resources in an effort to identify, disrupt and dismantle organizations that seek to exploit vulnerabilities along the U.S. borders and threaten the overall safety and security of the American public. BEST is designed to increase information sharing and collaboration among the participating agencies, focusing toward the identification, prioritization and investigation of emerging or existing threats.