Five men were sentenced to between seven and 17 years in federal prison for their roles in a maritime cocaine smuggling operation in what the U.S. attorney Thursday said is a victory in the “war against drugs.”
The men — three from Colombia and two from Guatemala — were arrested last September after attempting to flee the U.S. Coast Guard in the Eastern Pacific Ocean while traveling with 1,205 pounds of cocaine.
Three of them admitted in U.S. District Court to conspiring to distribute the cocaine. Laureano Benitez-Montano and Juan Jose Valiente-Tomes received seven-year prison terms and Luis Alberto Corado-Polanco was sentenced to eight years, the U.S. Attorney’s office said.
The other men admitted to possession with intent to distribute the cocaine while onboard a vessel subject to U.S. jurisdiction. Elpidio Enriquez was sentenced to 15 years behind bars and Jorge Ortiz-Salazar, the captain of the boat carrying the drugs, was sentenced to 17 years, six months in federal custody, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.
“As we see more and more smugglers taking to the ocean, hoping to go undetected in the vast territory of the Eastern Pacific Ocean, we have redoubled our efforts and committed more resources to this problem,” U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman said. “We are at the forefront of our nation’s war against drugs and will continue to work together with our law enforcement partners at the Coast Guard and the DEA to dismantle violent and dangerous transnational organized crime networks that are using the high seas as a Narco expressway.”
–City News Service