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Coast Guard seizes $20m in cocaine from sailboat off Cape Cod

A Coast Guard crew seized about 621 kilograms of cocaine — with an estimated street value of more than $20 million — from a sailboat 400 nautical miles east of Cape Cod, authorities said.

It was not immediately known where the 49-foot vessel, Elegance, was headed when it was interdicted, but its next listed port-of-call was Montreal, authorities said.

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Two people were arrested. Hicham Ramzi Nahra, 27, of Canada, and Benjamin Celma-Sedo, 49, of Spain, were charged in US District Court in Boston with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute on board a vessel subject to US jurisdiction.

The Coast Guard Cutter Dependable interdicted the vessel Monday. The boat was carrying a Canadian flag, but was stateless and never registered as a Canadian vessel, authorities said. Authorities later determined that the vessel was registered as the Callisto and its last port-of-call was in Venezuela.

After receiving permission from the Canadian government to board the vessel, Coast Guard crew members reported that they found 23 large, heavy plastic mesh bags each containing 25-to-27-kilogram packages of cocaine.

Milton J. Valencia can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @miltonvalencia.
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