Conn. man found guilty of importing cocaine into Charleston

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A Connecticut man was convicted on Wednesday for importing cocaine into the Port of Charleston.

United States Attorney Bill Nettles said Oscar Baptiste of East Hartford, Conn. was convicted following a two day trial.

Evidence presented established that Baptiste contacted an individual in South Carolina regarding plans to begin importing cocaine into the Port of Charleston from Panama.

That individual contacted law enforcement and began acting as a confidential informant for law enforcement.

Evidence showed that over the next several months, Baptiste engaged in email conversations with an undercover U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations agent, discussing plans for future shipments of multiple kilograms of cocaine into the Port of Charleston from Panama.

Eventually, Baptiste returned to Charleston on March 21, 2011 and met with the informant in North Charleston. During this meeting, which was recorded and monitored by law enforcement, Baptiste told the informant which container aboard the Maersk Dallas container ship would contain a kilogram of cocaine along with a description of how it would be packaged.

When the Maersk Dallas arrived at the Wando Terminal of the Port of Charleston the following day, agents removed the container and recovered the cocaine.

Evidence at trial showed this shipment was meant to be a test run to make sure the drugs could be offloaded successfully before continuing with larger shipments of cocaine. Baptiste was later arrested at his home in East Hartford, Conn.

Nettles said that Baptiste is facing 5 to 40 years in prison.

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