Feds indict alleged drug kingpin linked to cocaine submarine, Grosse Pointe Park man
Detroit — An Albanian man accused of heading an international drug ring and teaming with a prominent Grosse Pointe Park CEO to build a submarine to transport cocaine across the Atlantic Ocean was indicted Wednesday by a federal grand jury.
Ylli Didani, 43, was indicted on a drug conspiracy charge three weeks after The Detroit News linked him to the late Marty Tibbitts, CEO of Harper Woods-based Clementine Live Answering Service. Before Tibbitts' death in a plane crash in July 2018, he and Didani were building a submarine designed to store cocaine and attach itself via magnets to the hull of cargo ships crisscrossing the Atlantic Ocean, according to unsealed court records and sources familiar with the investigation.
“This is a very significant and important prosecution of a large scale, well-organized drug trafficking organization involved in the distribution of thousands of kilograms of cocaine worth tens of millions of dollars, across multiple continents," Acting U.S. Attorney Saima Mohsin said in a statement.
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Tibbitts was portrayed as the drug ring's financier, allegedly bankrolling the purchase of cocaine in South America for distribution in Metro Detroit and beyond.
The alleged drug ring devised innovative plans to avoid law enforcement by using a submarine they called "The Torpedo."
The torpedo was designed to attach itself to the bottom of cargo ships via magnets. By utilizing an underwater modem, the torpedo would communicate with a remote operator who could track the drone's location via an onboard GPS device.
"The drone was intended to be remotely operated and could release from the vessel at the request of the operator and would send up a GPS location beacon to identify its current location," according to an affidavit written by a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration task force officer.
The drug ring would be able to dispatch a fishing boat to the torpedo's location, up to 100 miles off the coast of Europe.
Tibbitts' death forced co-conspirators to search for a new financier in Ecuador, Dubai and the United Arab Emirates, and it caused the drug ring to abandon the submarine plans, according to the government, according to the government. The drug ring struggled in 2019 and last year as investigators seized more than 3,400 kilograms of cocaine worth more than $100 million, including cocaine hidden in a banana cargo ship in the Netherlands.
Didani was arrested March 31 in North Carolina and recently brought to Detroit. He attended a virtual court hearing Wednesday from the Midland County Jail and was ordered held without bond temporarily pending a bond hearing Monday.
Didani said his family is in the process of hiring a defense lawyer.