MANHATTAN (CN) – A Russian pilot was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for conspiring to bring tons of cocaine into the United States. Prosecutors said Konstantin Yaroshenko played a key role in turning war-torn Liberia into a trampoline for multi-ton shipments of cocaine from South America to Africa and Europe.
Yaroshenko was snared by Liberian government officials he bribed, who were working with the U.S. DEA, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in announcing the sentence.
Yaroshenko, 42, was arrested in Liberia on May 28, 2010, and sent to the United States. A jury convicted him in April after a 3-week trial; he was sentenced Thursday.
Increasingly sophisticated and powerful drug cartels have taken to using war-torn countries in Africa with dysfunctional governments as trampoline sites to land multi-ton loads of cocaine for shipment to Europe and elsewhere.
Mexico, the first major trampoline used by the Andean cartels, has been consumed by violence as the country’s army and police forces fight the cartels, not to stop the drug trade, as the U.S. press customarily reports, but for control of it.
A co-defendant in Yaroshenko’s case, Chigbo Peter Umeh, was tried with him and convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison.