AP NEWS

Los Angeles man sentenced for smuggling drugs to Australia

February 22, 2020 GMT

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A Los Angeles man who smuggled nearly 90 pounds of cocaine to Australia inside of air conditioners, water heaters and other household appliances was sentenced Friday to nine years in federal prison.

Vardges Markosyan, 47, of North Hollywood was sentenced in Los Angeles federal court.

Prosecutors said that from 2014 to 2016, Markosyan suspended 88.2 pounds (40 kilograms) of cocaine in grease and packed it into tankless water heaters, log splitters, air compressors, lamp stands and air conditioners that he shipped to Australia for distribution.

The drugs were worth at least $7 million in Australia, according to court papers.

Markosyan pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy to distribute cocaine and conspiracy to engage in money laundering.

Markosyan’s sister, 41-year-old Iren Markosyan of North Hollywood, awaits sentencing after pleading guilty to conspiracy to launder monetary instruments. She could face 20 years in prison.

Prosecutors said she allowed her bother to use her name to buy homes and use them as collateral for loans. The scheme laundered about $3.5 million in illicit drug proceeds, authorities said.