A Guyanese boat captain accused of smuggling three tons of pot worth $6 million out of Jamaica will face up to 40 years in prison. He was nabbed by the Key West-based Coast Guard Cutter Mohawk in October.
U.S. District Judge James Lawrence King will sentence Linden Alfred Kellman on April 22 at the Sidney M. Aronovitz federal courthouse, 301 Simonton St., Key West, as part of a plea agreement approved on Feb. 7, according to court records.
A Coast Guard boarding team found the marijuana in a hold in the rear of the 60-foot Capt. Richard on Oct. 9, along with Kellman, his mate, Arsham Ramsingh of Trinidad and Tobago and five Jamaicans. The Coast Guard responded to the boat adrift about 200 miles south of the island of Hispaniola.
Kellman told the boarding officer that he was paid $1,500 by the owner of the Capt. Richard while it was homeported in Kingston, Jamaica, to drive the boat to Georgetown, Guyana. He admitted to knowing about the marijuana.
Ramsingh, however, said he was paid $700 for the voyage, but that he didn't know about the drugs, according to court records. He told investigators that the purpose of the trip was to buy fish in Guyana and bring it back to Jamaica.
Ramsingh and Kellman were charged with conspiring to possess with intent to distribute 1,000 kilograms of marijuana. Both men were arrested and taken to Monroe County Detention Center on Stock Island. Federal prosecutors dropped the charge against Ramsingh on Nov. 30.
Kellman's plea agreement calls for a minimum of five years in prison and maximum of 40 years with up to life of supervised release as well as fines up to $5 million.
He also agreed to cooperate with the government in any further investigation.
The Capt. Richard was first encountered by the British ship, the HMS Dauntless, on Oct. 6 and the Coast Guard later received permission from the Jamaican government to board the vessel in what started as a disabled vessel call.
The Capt. Richard reportedly ran out of gas and was adrift when it was boarded by a temporary Mohawk joint crew made up mostly of coasties from the Mohawk's sister ship, the 270-foot Cutter Tahoma based in Kittery, Maine.
The Tahoma was being refitted with new equipment, refitted plumbing and electronics to bring her up to modern speed, whose commander was given temporary command over the Mohawk as part of a multi-crew training program.