Veteran smuggler of marijuana gets 6 1/2 years

April 23, 1992|By Norris P. West | Norris P. West,Staff Writer

A Baltimore County man who smuggled marijuana for more than 20 years was sentenced yesterday to 6 1/2 years in prison after pleading guilty to a charge of conspiracy to distribute the drug.

Judge Frederic N. Smalkin of U.S. District Court in Baltimore imposed the sentence on Phillip Soffos, 53, of the 12500 block of Dulaney Valley Road, who pleaded guilty to smuggling almost 800 pounds of marijuana into the United States from Mexico between 1987 and 1991.

"He has been a drug dealer forever," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Jack Purcell.

"It's about time Mr. Soffos paid the bill."

Baltimore County police and the U.S. Customs Service began a joint investigation of Soffos in August 1990, according to a statement of facts prepared by Mr. Purcell.

Investigators tracked Soffos through wiretaps as he arranged a smuggling trip to Mexico in March 1991.

Mr. Purcell said Soffos transported the drugs in a motor home that was modified with a compartment capable of secretly storing nearly 1,000 pounds of marijuana.

Records seized from his home showed that Soffos sold $146,000 worth of marijuana in late 1987 and early 1988.

Soffos admitted that he has sold marijuana since he was 30 years old.

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