Russian pilot jailed in US for drug trafficking

By IANS/RIA Novosti,

New York : Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko, who was found guilty of conspiring to smuggle cocaine into the US, has been sentenced to 20 years in prison by a court in New York.

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Yaroshenko and Nigerian national Chigbo Peter Umeh were detained in Liberia in May 2010 and extradited to the US on charges of smuggling a large consignment of cocaine, part of which was destined for the US.

Umeh was sentenced to 30 years in jail in July.

The New York Federal Court in April convicted Yaroshenko of conspiring to smuggle drugs into America. Sentencing in his case was postponed till Sep 7.

Yaroshenko’s lawyer requested the court to take into account the defendant’s reputation and the lack of criminal record and impose the minimal sentence of 10 years in prison.

In his 30-minute last plea, Yaroshenko said the charges against him were “lies and slander” and asked the judge to show mercy.

The sentencing was attended by the pilot’s mother, wife and daughter.

Yaroshenko’s lawyer earlier said the 43-year-old pilot could be transferred to Russia to serve out his sentence.