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‘Manager’ Of Venezuelan Maritime Cocaine Smuggling Operation From Puerto Rico Gets 25 Years In Prison

CHRISTIANSTED — A Puerto Rico native who prosecutors called the “manager” of a Venezuelan maritime smuggling operation trying to bring 661 pounds of cocaine to the region was handed a 25-year prison term by a federal judge on Thursday.

Omy Gutierrez-Calderon, 39, of San Juan, was sentenced to 300 months in prison for conspiracy to possess cocaine with intent to distribute and attempted possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, U.S. Attorney Gretchen C.F. Shappert said.

U.S. District Court Judge Wilma A. Lewis also sentenced Gutierrez-Calderon to ten years of supervised release, and ordered him to pay a fine of $10,000.000 and a special assessment of $300.00.

On June 26, 2018, a federal jury convicted Gutierrez-Calderon along with five codefendants on cocaine-related charges. Evidence at trial revealed that the organization planned the mid-sea retrieval of over 300 kilograms of cocaine during the period of the conspiracy, January 2014 through March 2016.

Gutierrez functioned as a manager in the organization. Approximately 223 kilograms of cocaine were actually distributed by the drug organization. Law enforcement efforts to interdict the drug shipments were successful, beginning in 2015.

In November 2014, Gutierrez-Calderon provided a firearm carried by a co-conspirator during the attempted retrieval of 80 kilograms of cocaine.

Between December 13 and 15, 2014, he assisted others in the mid-sea retrieval of 30 kilograms of cocaine.

Between November 12, 2015 and November 13, 2015, he assisted others in the successful retrieval of 87 kilograms of cocaine, also from mid-sea.

Fourteen individuals were originally charged as part of the drug trafficking organization.

Prior to trial, six defendants entered guilty pleas and were sentenced.

Gutierrez-Calderon is the last of the defendants convicted on June 26, 2018 to be sentenced.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alphonso G. Andrews, Jr. and Everard E. Potter.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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