Montreal man pleads not guilty in cocaine trafficking pot

Crime

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(AP) — A Montreal man pleaded not guilty Friday in federal court in Vermont to a federal charge that he took part in a plot to bring up to 1,500 kilograms (3,300 pounds) of cocaine to Vermont from Peru.

Georges Yaghmour entered the plea during a video hearing of Vermont’s U.S. District Court.

Court documents say the cocaine that was to be imported into the United States was for export. Apparently none of the cocaine reached its intended destination.

The documents don’t list the final destination of the cocaine, but it is part of the same plan that resulted in the kidnapping of a couple from Moira, New York, in late September, authorities said.

The couple, smuggled across the border into Canada before being rescued by Quebec police, was being held for the return of 50 kilograms of cocaine that had already been seized by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, authorities said.

“Though Yaghmour’s role, if any, in that kidnapping is unknown, the conspiracy of which he is a part is patently dangerous,” prosecutors said in a Thursday court filing asking that he be held pending trial.

Yaghmour’s attorney Michael Cohen, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, asked Magistrate Judge John Conroy for time to prepare a response to prosecutors’ request that Yaghmour be held pending trial.

Conroy ordered Yaghmour held but scheduled another hearing for next week to discuss bail.

Yaghmour was arrested in Florida in November after he flew there from Montreal to discuss why none of the cocaine he had arranged to be delivered had been delivered. He is now being held at Vermont’s Northwest Station Correctional Facility in St. Albans.

Prosecutors say Yaghmour was involved in a meeting in Burlington in December 2019 with other suspects, some of whom had entered the United States from Canada that day. Two weeks later, DEA agents witnessed a member of the plot deliver $150,000 as a down payment.

In September 2020, the DEA disrupted two deliveries that were part of the plan, a seizure of the 50 kilograms (110 pounds) of cocaine in South Burlington that led to the alleged kidnapping in New York, and a second, smaller seizure in Framingham, Massachusetts.

Prosecutors’ motion for detention said that after Yaghmour’s arrest, “Canadian police were contacted by someone on Yaghmour’s behalf seeking to substantiate a false claim that Yaghmour was acting on behalf of Canadian law enforcement.”

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