U.S. Coast Guard crews from two cutters brought six men suspected of smuggling a total of almost 700 kilograms of cocaine out of South America to face federal charges in Key West this month.
On Dec. 16, the cutter Mohawk, based in Key West, launched a patrol boat and a helicopter to intercept a speedboat about 400 nautical miles west of Guatemala while on patrol in the eastern Pacific as part of a multi-nation task force. According to a complaint filed in federal court by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the go-fast boat was carrying fuel drums and packages on its deck.
The helicopter gave chase and shot “warning and disabling fire” at the vessel, allowing the patrol boat crew to “gain positive control” of the speed boat.
On board, Coast Guard crews found 595 kilos of cocaine, according to the complaint.
Arrested were Adolfo Prado Correa, 40, Carlos Alberto Castillo Sandoval, 29 and Joffre Leonidas Pilozo Wila, 36. They each face a charge of possessing with intent to distribute five or more kilograms of cocaine while on a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.
They were taken to Key West on Jan. 17.
On Dec. 26, the cutter Northland, based in Portsmouth, Va., launched its patrol boat to intercept a go-fast boat in the eastern Pacific near the border of Costa Rica and Panama.
The Coast Guard crew ordered the speedboat operator to stop in both English and Spanish, to no avail. The Coast Guard crew fired three warning shots, “which caused the go-fast boat to come to a complete stop,” a Department of Homeland Security agent wrote in a complaint filed in federal court.
Before stopping, however, the speedboat crew dumped several packages in the water. But, between the one bale found in the bow of the boat and two recovered in the water, the Coast Guard seized almost 60 kilos of what tested positive for cocaine, according to the complaint.
The Coast Guard arrested Luis Carlos Parra, 38, Jose Enel Vente-Cuero, 41, and John Sebastian Olave-Campaz, 28, on charges of intent to distribute five or more kilograms of cocaine while on a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.
Each man claimed to be Colombian, but since the Colombian government would neither confirm or deny the registration of the go-fast boat, it became “subject to the jurisdiction of the United States,” according to the complaint.
The men were also brought to Key West on Jan. 17.
David Goodhue: 305-440-3204