Cocaine Smuggler Sentenced To 30 Years In Prison, Fined $1 Million
HARTFORD — - The ringleader of a group that smuggled hundreds of pounds of cocaine into the Northeast on banana boats bound for Bridgeport Harbor was sentenced to 30 years in prison and fined $1 million Friday in federal court.
Federal prosecutors said Antonio Miguel Arias, 38, a Dominican who lived most recently in Pennsylvania, ran a smuggling operation that shipped cocaine from Turbo, Colombia, to Connecticut hidden in pallets of bananas.
The cocaine was unloaded in Bridgeport in specially marked pallets of fruit and shipped through fruit wholesalers in Connecticut and New York, federal authorities said. Ultimately, the cocaine-laden fruit pallets were transported to a distribution company Arias owned in the Bronx, where the drugs were removed.
In August 2007, federal agents seized nearly 1,000 pounds of cocaine that had been shipped from Colombia to Bridgeport aboard the Napier Star, a fruit transport ship operated by the Turbana fruit company. Acting on a tip from an informant, federal agents said they intercepted the drugs as Arias' gang was moving them from the Hunt's Point produce market in the Bronx.
Later, working on information provided by a cooperating member of Arias' gang, authorities seized an additional 100 pounds of cocaine from a commercial fruit warehouse in New Haven.
Arias was sentenced by Chief U.S. District Judge Alvin W. Thompson in Hartford.
By EDMUND H. MAHONY
November 7, 2009