WASHINGTON — Goran Gogic, a former heavyweight boxer, has been charged in connection with a 2019 drug seizure that was heralded as one of the largest in U.S. history, the Department of Justice announced on Monday.
Gogic, a citizen of Montenegro, was arrested on Sunday while trying to board an international flight from Miami. According to multiple media reports, the 43-year-old was headed for Zurich at the time of his arrest.
Federal prosecutors accused Gogic of using commercial container ships to transport more than $1 billion worth of cocaine from Colombia to Europe through U.S. ports. Officials allege Gogic coordinated with cocaine sources in Columbia, the crewmembers on the cargo ships and the port workers who offloaded the cocaine in Europe.
Three of those shipments were stopped by U.S. law enforcement, including the June 19, 2019 seizure of approximately 17,956 kilograms of cocaine hidden aboard the MSC Gayane at the Port of Philadelphia.
Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said the former boxer was allegedly responsible for trafficking "a staggering amount of cocaine."
“The meticulous planning by the defendant and his co-conspirators failed to take into account the federal agents whose hard work resulted in this body blow to the organization and individuals responsible for distributing massive quantities of cocaine,” Pearce said in a statement.
Gogic is charged with one count of conspiracy to violate the Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Act and three counts of violating the Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Act, federal prosecutors said in a press release.
If convicted, he faces between 10 years and life in prison.
An attorney for Gogic told Reuters that the charges were a surprise to his client, who maintains his innocence and had come to the U.S. for a boxing convention in Puerto Rico.
Online records show Gogic was a heavyweight boxer from 2001 to 2012 and had a 21-4-2 record, according to Reuters.