The bust has been described as “one of the largest drug seizures in United States history”
A former boxer has been charged for his role in connection to the 2019 attempted smuggling of 22 tons of cocaine valued at more than $1 billion, the U.S. Justice Department announced.
Goran Gogic, of Montenegro, was taken into custody on Oct. 30 inside the Miami International Airport after he was indicted by a grand jury.
The 43-year-old was attempting to board a plane bound for Zurich during the time of his arrest.
Gogic is charged with three counts of violating the federal Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Act, and one count of conspiracy, the U.S. Justice Department said in a news release. Each count carries at least a 10-year prison term and possible life sentence.
Gogic briefly appeared in U.S. magistrate court, and has another hearing set for Nov. 7.
The illegal drugs allegedly traveled across the U.S. from Columbia and eventually entered Europe.
Approximately 19,930 kilograms (22 tons) of cocaine were seized from three commercial cargo ships in 2019, including 17,956 kilograms (19.8 tons) from the MSC Gayane, which was docked at Packer Avenue Marine Terminal in Philadelphia.
Gogic is believed to have been a key part of the operation and is accused of handling many of the logistics, including the removal of the drugs from speedboats, according to court documents. He allegedly used a crane to move the drugs from the speedboats onto the cargo ships.
Prosecutors said someone had to have deep knowledge of every ship’s crew and the ship’s route.
U.S. government officials described the bust as one of the largest drug seizures in the country’s history.
In a statement, U.S. attorney Breon Peace called Gogic’s arrest and indictment “a resounding victory for law enforcement.”
Meanwhile, Gogic’s legal representative said, “These charges came as a surprise to him. He maintains his innocence, and had come to the U.S. for a boxing convention in Puerto Rico.”
According to BoxRec, Gogic made his pro boxing debut in 2001 and ended his career in 2012.
The heavyweight fought the majority of his bouts in Germany. He won 21 bouts, lost four, and had two draws over the course of his career.