Mark Phillips, Smuggler Fugitive Arrested After 31 Years, Was a "Bit Player"
|Mark Steven Phillips, 62, arrested after 31 years on the run.|
Authorities allege that Phillips, who ran a Fort Lauderdale yacht company in the 1970s, helped a gang known as the "Black Tunas" purchase boats that were customized to fit as much illicit cargo as possible. The ships were used to move huge quantities of weed up and down the Western Hemisphere.
Robert Platshorn served 30 years in prison for his role as the leader of the Black Tunas. He said Phillips' arrest is
"He never sold so much as a seed of pot and was no insider in the Black Tunas," Platshorn told the Juice this weekend. "He is a nice guy and may now spend the rest of his life in federal prison. After 32 years, to hunt down and 'capture' a bit player in a pot case is no credit to our government. It's a big waste of money. And a long jail term will be an even bigger waste of tax bucks."
New Times had a cover story about Platshorn when he was released from prison two and a half years ago. His book, The Black Tuna Diaries, tells the tale of his years moving bales of bud and also his years behind bars. And he is featured in the South Florida pot-smuggling documentary Square Grouper, which will premiere later this year at SXSW in Austin. These days, Platshorn spends much of his time preaching the value of legalization to South Florida retirees.
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