TAMPA, Fla., Jan. 21 (UPI) -- A British man charged with trying to peddle strontium-90 from Russia to an undercover U.S. agent has admitted conspiring to sell cocaine.
Christopher Benbow, 64, appeared in federal court Tuesday in Florida, The Tampa Tribune reported. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute more than 5 kilograms of cocaine.
The case goes back to 2003 when Benbow, who was then living in Estonia, said three men who claimed to be Russian agents told him they had 9 kilograms of strontium-90, which can be used to make a dirty bomb. Benbow said that he hoped to make some money while ensuring terrorists would not obtain the material.
Benbow approached a friend he believed had ties to the U.S. government who put him in touch with men who offered to buy the canisters of strontium-90 while paying him in cocaine instead of cash.
After his arrest in Britain in 2004, Benbow was extradited to the United States, where he was convicted of drug conspiracy and sentenced to life. A federal appeals court reversed his conviction last year on the grounds that the government had not proved the cocaine was to be distributed in the United States.
Benbow faces a sentence of 10 years to life following his guilty plea.
"The facts underlying this case began like something out of a James Bond novel but soon morphed into an international drug conspiracy sting," the appeals court said last year.