Coast Guard seizes $20m in cocaine off coast of Cape Cod

It was an unusual catch to unload on a dock.

Members of the Coast Guard, the Drug Enforcement Administration, State Police, and other law enforcement agencies offloaded a massive haul of more than $20 million worth of cocaine from the deck of the Coast Guard cutter Dependable Friday, the Coast Guard said.

The drugs were seized, and two drug smuggling suspects arrested, by the Coast Guard during an at-sea interdiction on Sept. 2 about 460 miles east of Cape Cod, authorities said.


The men aboard the 49-foot sailing vessel Callisto, which was bearing a new name, Elegance, told the Coast Guard they were headed to Montreal to deliver the boat to its new owner, authorities said.

Get Fast Forward in your inbox:
Forget yesterday's news. Get what you need today in this early-morning email.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

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

Authorities said approximately 1,390 pounds of cocaine was discovered on the boat. After receiving permission from the Canadian government to board the vessel, Coast Guard crew members allegedly found about two dozen large, heavy plastic mesh bags containing packages of cocaine.

The Coast Guard cutter, with a DEA agent aboard, went looking for the boat Aug. 29 after receiving an all-points bulletin from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, according to a sworn statement filed in support of the charges by a Massachusetts State Police sergeant assigned to the Drug Enforcement Administration. The affidavit did not say how the Mounties allegedly knew the boat was suspicious.

Nahra had paperwork saying that the boat had been sold by a Maryland man to a Canadian man and its new name was Elegance. But the vessel had never been registered as a Canadian vessel, the affidavit said.


Nahra also told the Coast Guard that he had a previous conviction in Canada for marijuana trafficking, the affidavit said.

After a team of seven Coast Guard members boarded the boat, approximately 23 of the bags were found. Coast Guard crew “recognized the packages to contain contraband and appeared to be kilograms of cocaine,” the affidavit said. The contents of one “brick-shaped object” were field-tested twice, both times positive for cocaine.