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Massachusetts man pleads guilty to conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance

GULFPORT, Miss. - James Stavely O'Carroll, 59, pleaded guilty in U. S. District Court on Monday to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance following a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) investigation.

On Nov. 21, 2010, ICE HSI special agents in Gulfport, Miss., along with agents and officers in the Gulf Coast and Southeast Coast Border Enforcement Security Task Forces, seized 4,497 pounds of marijuana from the motor vessel Sarah Moira, an 80-foot steel hulled sailboat. The vessel captain, James O'Carroll, and two crewmembers, J. Boone Ferri and Brian Parker, all United States citizens, were arrested for smuggling goods into the United States.

The interception and take down of the Sarah Moira resulted from the collaborative efforts of the BEST members with the assistance of ICE HSI special agents in Charleston, S.C., Jacksonville, Fla., and Mobile, Ala. Participating task force members included ICE HSI (Gulf Coast and Southeast Coastal BEST task forces), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air & Marine Operations, CBP Office of Border Patrol; CBP Office of Field Operations, U.S. Coast Guard and the Harrison County Sheriff's office.

"The conviction of O'Carroll and dismantling of the narcotics smuggling organization with which he was associated, underscores how effective the BEST concept has proven to be," said Raymond R. Parmer, Jr., special agent in charge of ICE HSI in New Orleans. "By leveraging the combined investigative expertise of our domestic and international partners, we are able to fully and effectively address criminal activity that could undermine and threaten our ports of entry". Parmer oversees a five-state area which includes Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Tennessee.

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 BEST teams developed to identify, disrupt, and dismantle criminal organizations posing significant threats to border security. Currently, there are 21 BESTs with locations around the U.S and in Mexico, including the newly formed Gulf Coast BEST.