U.S. Soldier Found Guilty Of Smuggling Cocaine From Panama
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) _ An American soldier has been convicted of smuggling more than 37 pounds of cocaine into Puerto Rico from Panama aboard a military transport plane.
The soldier, Pvt. 1st Class Bruce Maurice Mack, 20, of Gary, Ind., was arrested Jan. 30 along with three others upon arrival at the Roosevelt Roads Naval Station on the east coast of this U.S. commonwealth.
A 12-member jury deliberated 2 1/2 hours before convicting Mack on Thursday of three counts of importing and possessing cocaine with the intent to distribute.
U.S. District Court Judge Hector Laffitte set sentencing for June 16. Mack faces terms ranging from 10 years to life.
Mack testifed Wednesday he had nothing to do with the others arrested on drug charges and denied two drug-filled duffel bags were his.
The others detained Jan. 30 were U.S. soldiers Darrin Taylor, 19, of Chicago, Ill., and Franklyn Milton Browne, 19, of the New York City borough of Queens, and Rafael A. Valladares, 29, a Panamanian civilian dressed as a U.S. soldier who was carrying false military documents.
Officials said Mack and Valladares were working independently of each other and of the others. Partially sealed indictments alleged Taylor and Browne were working together with four other people, including two arrested in Ft. Worth, Texas, who were to receive the drugs.
Another U.S. soldier working with the group, Richard Mark Williams, was brought to Puerto Rico from Panama last month and charged with smuggling and possession with intent to distribute 17 pounds of cocaine.
The cocaine was found in a routine customs check during a refueling stop on a flight from Howard Air Force Base in Panama.