Three Colombian nationals seized in a dramatic June 18, 2019 Coast Guard take down of a narco sub (see video) were today sentenced to federal prison terms.
U.S. District Judge Susan C. Bucklew sentenced Carlos Chavez-Aguirre (35), Yesid Caicedo Asprilla (50), and David Hurtado Vallecilla (45) to prison terms of 20, 12, and 11 years, respectively. They had pleaded guilty in August and September 2019 tp charges of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with the intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine while onboard a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.
According to court documents, on June 18, 2019, while on routine patrol in the East Pacific Ocean, the USCG cutter Munro located a 50-ft long self-propelled semi-submersible submarine with a sealed cabin approximately 92 nautical miles northwest of Tumaco, Colombia, in international waters.
USCG law enforcement officers boarded the semi-submersible submarine while it was still moving. The boarding led to the arrest of five individuals, and the recovery of 7,683 kilograms of cocaine (almost 17,000 pounds) worth approximately $192 million.
Two remaining defendants are scheduled to be sentenced on January 14, 2020 and February 12, 2020.
Carlos Chavez-Aguirre had previously been convicted of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with the intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine while onboard a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.
Thr case was investigated by the Panama Express Strike Force, an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) comprised of agents and analysts from the United States Coast Guard Investigative Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, and U.S. Southern Command’s Joint Interagency Task Force South.
“This case highlights the interagency cooperation that fuels the mission of the Panama Express Strike Force; which is to disrupt and dismantle transnational criminal organizations,” said FBI Tampa Division Special Agent in Charge Michael F. McPherson.