Narco sub “prince” gets hefty U.S. prison term

Written by Nick Blenkey
Narco sub prince under arrest

Columbian National Police released this photo of "Prince of the Semisubmersibles" Quintero Rengifo following his arrest in 2021

So long as cocaine continues to be the most profitable cargo that can be transported by sea, so called “narco subs,” or more accurately semi-submersibles, will continue to present a tricky target for authorities. One person who will no longer be profiting from their operation is the man Columbian media dubbed the “Prince of the Semi-Submersibles,” Oscar Adriano Quintero Rengifo, a/k/a “Guatala.” The 35 year old Colombian national is going to be in a U.S. federal prison for a long time

Yesterday in Tampa, Fla., U.S. District Judge Charlene Edwards Honeywell sentenced Rengifo to 20 years and 10 months in prison for smuggling cocaine into the United States of America.

Rengifo was arrested in Colombia at the request of the United States on January 29, 2021, and extradited to the United States on January 26, 2022. He pleaded guilty on May 20, 2022.

According to the plea agreement filed in the case, says the Department of Justice, Rengifo was part of a transnational criminal organization that smuggled cocaine from South America to Central America for ultimate importation into the U.S. The organization primarily sent vessels including self-propelled semi-submersible vessels to Guatemala, where the cocaine was then smuggled over the Guatemala/Mexican border and then into the United States. A former mayor in Guatemala, who controlled drug routes in northern Guatemala into Mexico, oversaw the smuggling of cocaine to Mexican cartel members.

According to the Department of Justice, Rengifo progressed within the group, from organizing smuggling operations, to ultimately investing in shipments and securing investors.

From at least as early as January 2015 through September 2019, the U.S. Coast Guard interdicted at least four vessels, including two semi-submersible vessels, directly linked to the defendant’s organization, and involving more than 13,000 kilograms of cocaine.

The case was investigated by the Panama Express Strike Force, a standing Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) comprised of agents and analysts from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service, and the U.S. Southern Command’s Joint Interagency Task Force South. The Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs and the Criminal Division’s Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section (NDDS) Judicial Attachés in Bogotá, Colombia, substantially assisted in in securing the arrest and extradition of the defendant to the United States. The Government of Colombia and the Colombian Office of the Attorney General provided significant assistance and support.

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