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March 5, 2012Baltimore, MDUnited StatesNarcotics

Virginia man sentenced to federal prison in conspiracy to import heroin and cocaine using cruise ship employees

Paid cruise ship employees to transport the drugs through Port of Baltimore

BALTIMORE — A Virginia man was sentenced to 20 years in prison for conspiracy to import heroin and cocaine following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Loxly Johnson, aka Desmond Williams, 49, of Norfolk, Va., was sentenced today to 20 years in prison followed by 10 years of supervised release by U.S. District Judge William D. Quarles, Jr.

"Homeland Security Investigations special agents disrupted a narcotics trafficking organization circumventing the security and customs protocols established at the Port of Baltimore," said William Winter, special agent in charge of HSI Baltimore. "HSI special agents in Maryland are dedicated to working with our law enforcement partners, both foreign and domestic, in a unified effort to stop the transshipment of drugs and other contraband into the United States and reaching our communities."

According to evidence presented at Johnson's four day trial, Johnson organized the importation of cocaine and heroin from the Dominican Republic using crew members from a cruise ship to transport the drugs to Baltimore. Witnesses testified that cruise ship crew members Gavin Excell, John Swart Garth and Kishurn Neptune picked up the heroin and cocaine from an individual in the Dominican Republic and transported the drugs on the cruise ship to Baltimore.

On Dec. 18, 2010, after receiving information from the ship security officer that several crew members on the Royal Caribbean M/V Enchantment of the Seas may be involved in drug smuggling, HSI special agents and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers set up an operation to inspect the crew members of the ship as they disembarked in Baltimore. When Excell disembarked, HSI and CBP officers escorted him to an area for a secondary search that recovered a package wrapped in silver duct tape in Excell's pants and two similar packages in Excell's shoes. Excell advised the HSI special agents that he, Garth and Neptune were to deliver the suspected narcotics to an individual they knew only as "Tony" who was to meet them at the Walmart near the cruise terminal. Excell said he was instructed to call Tony when he arrived at the Walmart, and that he would be paid $4,000 once he delivered the drugs to Tony. Tony was later identified as Loxly Johnson.

Surveillance at the Walmart parking lot was established, and HSI special agents observed Garth meeting with Johnson and Shenika Graves in a vehicle on the Walmart parking lot, then exiting the vehicle a short time later, and proceeding inside the Walmart. Under the supervision of HSI special agents, Excell called "Tony," who advised that they had to meet somewhere else and that he would call Excell back. Johnson left the store and drove to a nearby location. As he left that location, HSI special agents stopped Johnson's vehicle and recovered $8,000 in cash, hidden under the lining of the child safety seat in the rear of the vehicle. A cell phone was recovered from Johnson and its call log showed the recently received call from Excell's phone. Other HSI special agents stopped Graves in the store and recovered packages of drugs, similar to those recovered from Excell, in her purse.

The cruise ship was subsequently searched and the heroin and cocaine that Neptune was to have delivered to Tony was also found.

Excell, 36, of Jamaica; Garth, 39, of Nicaragua; and Kishurn Neptune, 28, of St. Vincent and the Grenadines pleaded guilty to their roles in the conspiracy and were sentenced to time served. Shenika Graves, 36, of Norfolk, was convicted by a federal jury and was sentenced to a year and a day in prison.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Philip S. Jackson.

Updated: 12/09/2014