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But when the United States began eyeing the Mexican traffic around 2000, smugglers quickly regrouped. "Given the high levels of corruption in Bahamian authorities and a limited capacity to enforce, and the U.S.'s increasing focus on Central America and Mexico, the Bahamas were ripe for use once again," says Bruce Bagley, a University of Miami professor who studies the drug trade.
Among the Colombians dusting off the old routes was Elías Cobos-Muñoz. Around 1999, the dealer from Colombia's north coast began outsourcing product to the States by teaming with traffickers in Caribbean countries such as Jamaica and the Dominican Republic.
The Bahamian pipeline was fronted by two bosses — Melvin "Mel" Maycock Sr. and Pedro "Grand Daddy" Smith. By air and water, the pair landed drugs in South Florida, circumventing traditional drop-offs in Miami-Dade for sites in Broward and Palm Beach.
At any one time, the network was moving as much as three tons of cocaine — between 10 to 12 percent of what America was putting up its nose at the time, plus a half-ton of marijuana. During half a decade, the operation grossed around $275 million.
Among the Bahamians speedboating drugs to South Florida at the time were Almanto Coakley and Eloyn Devon Ingraham, two men who would become critical in the case of Marissa Karp. Ingraham, age 24, was a fierce-eyed repeat offender who had served time for theft, burglary, assault, and marijuana possession. Coakley was a 28-year-old bantam-weight Bahamian topping out at five-foot-nine with a small swashbuckler mustache, a wide nose, a lion inked on one arm, and "Latoya" printed on the other.
Coakley and Ingraham managed a group of about a half-dozen Bahamians and two native Americans who ran the drugs over the water from the beaches of Bimini to South Florida. Of every ten kilos they moved, nine would be sold to distributors in college towns such as Gainesville and Tallahassee.
They'd move the remaining kilo — worth about $100,000 at the time — from a cramped rear apartment located in a quiet tangle of streets west of U.S. 1 in Hallandale Beach. The building was called Sue's Efficiencies. It was a run-down shotgun chopped into five units, each no larger than a glorified closet space. In the summer of 2002, Coakley was paying the rent for the apartment.
"They weren't the main guys," says Broward Sheriff's Det. John Curcio, "but they were high enough in the food chain where they were delivering the cocaine to the distributors all over the place."
How Marissa Karp fell in with drug dealers is anybody's guess. The two worlds could have overlapped when she was moving from shelter to shelter after leaving her grandmother's home. Marissa might have surfed open couches and crash pads until landing in Hallandale Beach. But by late summer 2002, the 17-year-old girl everyone called "Shorty" was living with Coakley. Multiple witnesses would later tell police the suburban-bred girl and Bahamian drug dealer were a couple.
After Marissa's body was found, those same witnesses would begin to fill in the picture about her last hours. Police documents and affidavits show that on the evening of August 18, Coakley and one of his alleged henchmen, Thaddeus Sondej, were having dinner at a house in Hollywood when Ingraham called. There was an emergency at the Hallandale Beach apartment.
Although no one has been charged with Marissa's murder, police files describe an account of that evening from various witnesses and pieces of evidence.
As the clock swung through the early-morning hours of August 19, Coakley and Sondej arrived at the apartment. Soon they were joined by Sondej's brother, who drove a truck. Pinging cell-phone towers would later track Coakley, Sondej, and the brother north on I-95, then west on I-595, and finally to I-75, where they journeyed deep into the Everglades.
At the highway's 52-mile marker, they tossed a garbage bag into a nearby canal and hoped alligators would eat the contents.
In the following days, word spread that Ingraham had murdered the girl after an argument, witnesses would later tell police. Potential fall guys were discussed. Ingraham disappeared for three days after the incident, witnesses said.
A neighbor at Sue's Efficiencies would later state she'd heard a muffled gunshot echo from the back apartment on the night in question. A search of the cramped room eventually turned up a bullet hole in the fridge.
Gary Karp had little preparation for his new role: the father of a violent-crime victim.
Before Marissa's death, all he knew about criminal investigations came from television, where cases wrapped before the credits. His thoughts about the death penalty didn't push much deeper than vague opposition.
Tragedy struck elsewhere, to other people, he thought. In 2001, he watched with the rest of America as Washington, D.C. police searched for Chandra Levy, a missing 24-year-old government intern later found murdered. The woman came from a family like his own. "These types of things didn't happen to nice Jewish families," Gary says.
At first it all seemed like a nightmare. When he finally accepted the situation, Gary tried to burrow beneath work at the soap store. But he couldn't think about anything except the crime. In 2002, the business closed.
I'm making $86 an hour working from home. I was shocked when my neighbour told me she was averaging $95 but I see how it works now. I feel so much freedom now that I'm my own boss. This is what I do,Fox76.comTAKE A LOOK,,,
Don't give up Mr. Karp. You give hope to loved one's working on unresolved cases and remind the murderer's not to underestimate the determination or ability of a victims' loved one to get to the truth.
Perhaps your article shedding more light on this case will eventually help solve this murder and give some measure of closure to this heartbroken father and brother. This is my first knowledge of it but I will be following in the future.