MSC Gayane Crew Member, Vladimir Penda Sentenced to 5+ Years for Conspiracy to Smuggle $1 Billion Worth of Cocaine into the United States
PHILADELPHIA (STL.News) Acting United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced today that Vladimir Penda, 27, of Montenegro, was sentenced to five years and ten months in prison, and two years of supervised release by United States District Court Judge Harvey Bartle III, on charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine on a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.
For the first half of 2019 until mid-June of that year, Penda, a crew member who worked on board the shipping vessel MSC Gayane as the ship’s fourth engineer, conspired with others to engage in a bulk cocaine smuggling scheme. On multiple occasions during the MSC Gayane’s voyage and while at sea, crew members including Penda helped load bulk packages of cocaine onto the vessel from speedboats that approached the vessel in the middle of the night under cover of darkness. Crew members used the vessel’s crane to hoist cargo nets full of cocaine onto the vessel and then stashed the cocaine in the vessel’s shipping containers.