Coast Guard petty officer guilty on drug charges

October 27, 2004

A Coast Guard petty officer who had been on a ship patrolling the Caribbean islands for drug traffickers was convicted in federal court yesterday of cocaine smuggling charges.

Petty Officer Wendy Bens, 25, of Boston was using his contacts in the Caribbean to import cocaine into the United States, prosecutors said. In January, authorities said, they intercepted Bens' courier, a Grenadian coast guard sailor, at Baltimore-Washington International Airport carrying a suitcase with the drug hidden in the lining.

Authorities set up a sting, and when Bens came to pick up the suitcase, he and a co-defendant were arrested. A jury in U.S. District Court in Baltimore found him guilty of conspiracy to import cocaine, importation of cocaine, possession with intent to distribute cocaine, conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. He is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 7.

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