By Kevin Deutsch
A Bronx-born Navy veteran has been sentenced to 25 years in a Kuwait prison after his conviction on marijuana-related charges in the Middle Eastern nation, according to family and friends of the detainee.
Nicodemus Acosta, 30, a Computer System Support Specialist with Alaska-based Vista Defense Technologies, had been working in Kuwait for almost 4 years when the national police arrested him in August on charges of drug use and distribution, after allegedly seizing about 1.75 pounds of marijuana authorities said belonged to him and several associates.
Other Americans were also charged in the drug case, police records show.
After several months of court dates, Acosta was convicted at trial in March and sentenced to 25 years with hard labor, according to Sarah Floyd, a friend of Mr. Acosta’s who said she was also taken into custody at the time, but later released.
Acosta had been implicated by a man in police custody who fingered him as a drug dealer—an allegation his family and friends say is false.
The ex-service member, who is divorced with a 7-year-old son, joined the Navy in 2008 and served on active duty for 5 years, according to a biography provided by a Navy spokesperson.
During that time, he was stationed overseas in locations including Spain and Bahrain. He continued his military career for several years with the Navy reserves, according to the Navy.
U.S. officials confirmed Mr. Acosta’s detention to Bronx Justice News Thursday, saying they are doing all they can to help the American citizen.
“We can confirm the detention of U.S. citizen Nicodemus Acosta in Kuwait,” a U.S. State Department official said. “We are providing all appropriate consular services to Mr. Acosta. When a U.S. citizen is detained abroad, consular officers seek to aid him or her with all appropriate consular assistance.”
The official said that assistance may include: attempting to ensure the detainee receives a fair and transparent legal process with access to legal counsel; visiting the U.S. national in prison to ensure he is receiving humane treatment, including medical treatment if needed; and, with the prisoner’s permission, facilitating communications with his family and other contacts.