PHILADELPHIA – A Wilmington port employee pleaded guilty today in federal court to three counts of attempted possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. Ronald Mays, 63, of Wilmington, Delaware was arrested in April this year after a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) investigation.
Mays worked at the Port of Wilmington in Delaware as a mechanic at the time of his arrest and had access international cargo ships that came into port. In October 2013 HSI special agents were investigating possible drug smuggling involving ships that came in from countries in Central and South America.
After a cooperating defendant contacted Mays and told him that a group of traffickers they both knew would resume running drugs out of the port, Mays agreed to look in to security at the port. He and the cooperating defendant had several meetings about unloading drugs from a ship and also conducted a dry run. An HSI special agent placed sham cocaine in a shipping container on a vessel docked at the port Dec. 29, 2013.
On Jan. 6, 2014, Mays told the cooperating defendant that he had the drugs and the two met for Mays to deliver the package. Similar transactions were completed in February and March of 2014, with Mays receiving a total of $24,000 to retrieve 12 kilograms of what he believed was cocaine from ships docked at the port. After the March transaction, law enforcement officers working with HSI agents followed Mays and pulled him over on I-95 as part of the investigation. Mays was formally indicted in April 2015.
U.S. District Court Judge Michael Baylson scheduled a sentencing hearing for Feb. 11, 2016. Mays faces a possible advisory sentencing guideline range of 57 to 71 months in prison. In addition to the prison term, he faces possible fines, at least four years of supervised release, and a special assessment of $300.
The case was investigated by HSI with assistance from CBP and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sozi Pedro Tulante.