Former marine executive gets five years in prison

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Mark Steven Phillips, 62, the former corporate director of Striker Aluminum Yachts, was sentenced to five years in prison on Wednesday by the federal judge who presided over his drug-smuggling trial more than three decades ago.

Phillips was an executive with the Fort Lauderdale boat company, his family business, when he met with gang members and his company provided boats for the smuggling, officials said.

U.S. District Judge James Lawrence King ordered Phillips, 62, to serve the prison sentence, followed by two years of special parole, for his role in the so-called “Black Tuna Gang.” The group imported into the United States as much as 500 tons of marijuana and cocaine worth an estimated $300 million when they were active in the 1970s, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

The U.S. Marshals Cold Case Squad caught up with Phillips Jan. 27 at a Century Village apartment near West Palm Beach. Phillips had been on the run since 1979, when he disappeared seven weeks into his drug-smuggling trial in Miami while free on $25,000 bond, federal agents said.

Before the Miami trial, he was sentenced to five years in prison in a related drug-smuggling case in North Carolina. The yet-to-be-served North Carolina sentence will run concurrently with Wednesday’s sentence, according to the report.

While on the run, Phillips was found guilty of seven counts of racketeering and drug smuggling.

Prosecutors said Phillips moved to Chile and established a nice life. The divorced father of two remarried, had a son and started a lucrative business importing and exporting seafood. He used an alias to obtain a German passport and traveled to the United States, flying into the country from Chile, London and Vancouver.

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