Miami Fugitive On the Run 30 Years Sentenced

Man who skipped out on 1979 court hearing sentenced 30 years later

A man who was captured over 30 years after he skipped out on a Miami court appearance on marijuana smuggling charges was sentenced Wednesday to five years in  prison.

Mark Steven Phillips, 62, will serve the sentence concurrently with a related case in North Carolina.

Phillips was arrested in January after he was found at a senior living community in West Palm Beach. Authorities say Phillips skipped out on a November 1979 Miami court appearance where he was facing racketeering and possession with intent to distribute marijuana.

Phillips was among 13 people charged with running a massive marijuana and cocaine importing operation, dubbed the Black Tuna Gang, from 1974 to 1978.

Authorities say Phillips, director of Fort Lauderdale company Striker Aluminum Yachts, bought vessels so they could be stripped down and stuffed with the drugs.

Defense attorneys argued Phillips' role in the operation was relatively minor.

Phillips went on the run in Chile and Germany, and got married and had a son before returning to the U.S., spending time in New York and Florida, authorities said.

Wednesday's ruling was handed down by U.S. District Judge James Lawrence King, who presided over Phillips' case in 1979.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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