Ship crewmembers admit trying to smuggle tons of cocaine into US

Drugs found in hidden compartment

Dave Cohen, WWL First News early edition
September 20, 2019 - 9:09 pm
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A federal judge in New Orleans has sentenced the crew of a container ship to five years in prison for attempting to smuggle more than three tons of cocaine into the United States.

“The U.S. Coast Guard interdicted the vessel in international waters south of Costa Rica,” Shane Jones in the United States Attorney’s office said in a news release. “After extensive searching, law enforcement found a hidden compartment inside a ballast tank on the vessel.”

Investigators say they found approximately 3,400 kilograms of cocaine in the compartment.

"The sophisticated compartment was secured with headless screws and covered with putty so that it was virtually impossible to detect.”

The defendants agreed to a plea bargain and detailed the operation to prosecutors.

“The crewmembers all acknowledged that after the vessel left port in Peru, it met up at sea with speedboats sent from near the Colombia/Ecuador border.  The vessel crew used an onboard crane to load the tons of cocaine off of the speedboats and onto the deck of the container vessel.”

Jones says that the crewmembers then moved the cocaine into the secret compartment constructed specifically to hide the cocaine.    

More information:

  • United States District Judge Barry Ashe sentenced two Colombians, JHONNY RODRIGUEZ ALVAREZ, age 36, and ARIEL CALVO HENAO, age 52, two Ecuadorians, HECTOR RAFAEL GOMEZ LIMONES, age 38, VICENTE LOPEZ MERO, age 61, and four Peruvians JESUS JUSTO TASA CERVANTES, age 65, BORIS WISMARK VERGARA MONCADA, age 54, WALTER REYNALDO VIERA SULLON, age 45 and EDISON OMAR OTERO CRUZ, age 26, for conspiring to import 3,400 kilograms of cocaine into the United States.  The sentencings took place over the last several weeks, with the final defendant being sentenced today.


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