Jonathon Costenbader, Cocaine Yacht Captain, Pleads Guilty

Categories: Broward News

The M.V. Secret Spot
Cocaine Megayacht Captain, Jonathon Costenbader, plead guilty to conspiring to import cocaine in federal court in West Palm Beach on Friday.

Back in October, we told you about the 34-year-old Costenbader, who captained a 132-foot luxury megayacht called the Secret Spot. He was also apparently captaining around a literal boatload of cocaine.

Initial reports had him transporting around 620 pounds of yeyo on the Secret Spot. But, as it turns out, it was more like 1,100 pounds. According to the feds, the coke had a street value of about $14.5 million.

See also: 600 Pounds of Cocaine Found on West Palm Megayacht

The feds said Costenbader was paid to import a cool $20 million worth of coke between June and October.

When he was busted in October, Costenbader had just docked the Secret Spot from the Bahamas at the Palm Harbor Marina in West Palm Beach.

He was spotted carrying duffel bags off the yacht and then loading them into his pickup. Costenbader's girlfriend, Michelle Daniel, 33, helped him unload the bags. She was also arrested. Daniel pled guilty to similar charges.

Costenbader was apparently very forthcoming with the authorities when he was confronted.

When agents asked him what was in the bags, he replied, "Cocaine."

Costenbader also admitted getting the coke from the Bahamas and said he was going to hand the drugs over to another man here in Florida named Steve Torello Davis.

Feds had the captain place a call to Davis to set up a place to meet where the cocaine could be delivered.

According to investigators, Davis was expecting 200 bricks, which he was allegedly going to turn over to other people.

Homeland Security Investigations agents, the Drug Enforcement Administration, Customs and Border Patrol, and the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office were all ready to pounce when the two men met up. And pounce they did, arresting the 26-year-old Davis.

On Friday, Davis also pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges.

According to agents, Costenbader had been paid $500,000 for importing coke in the past, and was expecting another $700 grand this time around when they nabbed him. He also told agents that he had about $200,000 at his home, and that he lost most of it on gambling.

Costenbader, Daniel and Davis are scheduled to be sentenced on February 21.

If convicted, they face a maximum penalty of ten years to life in federal prison and a $10 million fine.

Send your story tips to the author, Chris Joseph.

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There are not any press releases related to this case (Arrest, Indictment, Guilty Plea) on US ATTY Southern District Florida website.


I mean no disrespect to Chris Joseph, but it was a little disappointing to see NT recycling lame SS and PBP content while totally missing the real story.

The real story is the mystery about how an international organized crime syndicate orchestrated an elaborate, well funded scheme that anonymously recruited multiple cutouts.

The paymaster, Steven Davis was not really a dealer or a distributor in the typical sense, he was basically an intermediary and well paid cut out. Davis did not even know if the shipment was pot or cocaine.

Costenbader speed of 25 knots is what reportedly attracted the unwanted attention of the spotter plane. It suggests he was probable working under a timetable for unloading.

 You can bet that the crime syndicate knew the deal was going south before Costenbader did. They likely had a view of the marina from afar and would have seen law enforcement rolling up to the dock. The syndicate undoubtedly knew that Captain Costenbader rolled on Davis before the parking lot take down. 

Typically guilty pleas signal defendants are cooperating, but with the syndicates sophisticated firewall still intact, (as of late as last week), the odds of the DEA successfully getting past their paymaster pawn cutout are not looking very good.

The missing story is all about mystery and intrigue. It is intriguing that Davis can't roll over on anyone. It is intriguing because the scheme was so well designed, that neither Davis, Costenbader or Daniels have any idea of the identity of who their employer is. 

The endgame story may be a story about the lack success of the DEA in deciphering the clues, and its failure to sort out who the real players are.

Sidebar: There won't be any forfeiture proceedings as the DOJ has concluded that SecretSpot yacht owners Sid and Leslie-Anne Meuser of Singer Island did not have involvement beyond their misguided trust in their captain.

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