A Guyanese boat captain who smuggled 3 tons of pot worth $6 million out of Jamaica before being nabbed by the Key West-based Coast Guard cutter Mohawk in October will spend the next nine years in prison.
U.S. District Judge James Lawrence King sentenced Linden Alfred Kellman on Thursday 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.
Kellman will serve four years' probation when he is released from prison. He was also ordered to pay $100 in court costs.
He had faced a minimum of five years in prison and maximum of 40 years to life of supervised release as well as fines up to $5 million. He agreed to cooperate with the government in any further investigation.
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.
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 told the boarding officer that he was paid $1,500 by the owner of the Capt. Richard while it was home ported 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.
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 Coast Guardsman from the Mohawk's sister ship, the 270-foot cutter Tahoma based in Kittery, Maine.
The commander of the Tahoma, which was being refitted with new equipment, plumbing and electronics to bring her up to modern speed, was given temporary command over the Mohawk as part of a multicrew training program.