A South Florida man set out for the Bahamas with the intent of bringing 50 kilograms of cocaine back to the United States on a 31-foot, three-engine go-fast boat.
But when he and his partner got to Bimini on April 5, the plans changed over the next five days. The contraband, with the exception of 1 kilo of heroin, was ultimately switched from drugs to people.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations agents stopped David Menejia Manso, 42, and another person, who was an undercover informant for the Drug Enforcement Administration and Homeland Security Investigations, about five nautical miles east of Key Largo Monday morning.
A Customs air crew saw Manso toss a bag overboard that the informant confirmed was the heroin, according to a Homeland Security Investigations agent’s arrest affidavit. But the human cargo remained. On board were four people from Jamaica, five Haitians and a person from Gambia — none legally allowed to be in the United States.
The investigation into Manso began when the informant told DEA agents that on March 6, he was solicited by a person in the U.S. to smuggle drugs into the country from the Bahamas.
The informant met with several people on April 5, including Manso, and discussed several smuggling deals. The informant and Manso set out that night on the boat to Bimini, they thought at the time, to pick up the 50 kilos of cocaine, according to the affidavit.
During the course of the next four days, the informant and Manso met with other people in the Bahamas to negotiate heroin, cocaine and human smuggling deals. Manso and the informant left Bimini on April 9, each taking turns driving the boat, with the heroin and people on board.
After they were stopped by the Customs boat crews, the migrants were transferred to a U.S. Coast Guard cutter, and Manso was delivered to DEA and Homeland Security Investigations agents waiting in Key Largo.
He’s not been charged, but he faces alien smuggling and drug trafficking charges.