Former heavyweight boxer Goran Gogic was charged with the maritime trafficking of over $1 billion worth of cocaine through US ports, the U.S. Department of Justice said on Monday.
The 43-year-old Montenegrin was arrested on Sunday night as he tried to board an international flight from Miami, the DOJ said in a news release.
Gogic has been 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, according to court documents. If convicted, he faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison, with an upper threshold of life in prison, the DOJ said.
Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, described the quantities of cocaine that Gogic and his co-conspirators allegedly tried to move as “staggering” and noted that it was more than 20 tons.
Between May 2018 and July 2019, Gogic allegedly “conspired with others to distribute massive quantities of cocaine” sourced from Colombia to Europe on commercial cargo ships loaded in the US, according to the DOJ and court documents.
The DOJ says U.S. law enforcement officers seized three shipments of cocaine.
The largest of the three seizures happened at the Port of Philadelphia on June 19, 2019, when nearly 20 tons of cocaine were found hidden on board the MSC Gayane.
It was “one of the largest seizures of cocaine in United States history” and worth over $1 billion, the DOJ said.
Reuters reports that Gogic was detained after appearing in federal court in Miami on Monday, citing his lawyer, who told the news agency the charges came as a surprise to his client, adding that Gogic “maintains his innocence, and had to come to the US for a boxing convention in Puerto Rico.”
Gogic is set to be arraigned in the Eastern District of New York at an unspecified date, according to the Department of Justice.
CNN reached out to Gogic’s lawyers and the Consulate of Montenegro in New York City for comment but did not immediately receive a response.
Gogic’s boxing career spanned 11 years from 2001 to 2012, according to BoxRec. He retired with a record of 21 wins, four defeats and two draws.