Coast Guard commander charged with illegally importing narcotics

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OAKLAND, Calif. — A United States Coast Guard commander was charged with illegal importation of controlled substances Wednesday, a U.S. Justice Department spokesman said.

According to a complaint, James Silcox III, 41, received three shipments of Tramadol, a controlled substance and narcotic, to post-office boxes over the summer.

In July, an 865-gram package from Singapore headed for a post-office box was flagged by Customs and Border Protections officers at the U.S. Postal Service's international mail facility at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport.

Officers at the postal service's San Francisco air-mail facility intercepted another 650-tablet Tramadol package from Singapore in August, before receiving another package September 13 that held 458 grams of Tramadol.

After law-enforcement officers swapped out the August package's Tramadol for substitute material, they delivered it to Silcox's post-office box Monday. He picked up the package the same day, and officers arrested him Tuesday at his Coast Guard Island residence.

Silcox was released on a personal-recognizance bond after appearing in San Francisco federal court Wednesday morning, and he will return Sept. 26 to identity counsel and attend a preliminary hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Kandis Westmore.

He faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each violiation, but federal sentencing guidelines will ultimately affect any imposed sentence.

In addition, indictments are only allegations of committed crimes and Silcox is considered innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah Griswold is prosecuting the case, which came from an investigation by the Homeland Security Investigations; the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area-Transnational Narcotics Team; the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General; and the Coast Guard Investigation Service,

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©2019 the Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, Calif.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.