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2 Columbians Who Tried To Smuggle 3,384 Pounds Of Cocaine On Submarine Get 5 Years In Prison

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — Two Columbians who pleaded guilty to being on a mini-submarine with 3,384 pounds of cocaine off the coast of Ecuador got five years in prison from a federal judge.

Freddy Montano Paz, 30, and Mariano Abregon, 33, were each sentenced before U.S. District Court Judge Robert A. Molloy to 60 months of incarceration on their convictions on conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 1,535 kilograms of cocaine, U.S. Attorney Gretchen Shappert said.

Judge Molloy also sentenced Montano Paz and Abregon to five years of supervised release, removal from the United States after serving their sentences, and $100 each for special assessments.

According to court records, on May 10, 2019, the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton sighted a self-propelled, semi-submersible vessel in international waters approximately 250 nautical miles northwest of Esmeraldas, Ecuador.

The semi-submersible was navigating on a westerly course
in a known drug smuggling area, and displayed no indicia of nationality nor markings, or navigation lights. More than 80 percent of the vessel was under the waterline.

As they approached the semi-submersible, U.S. Coast Guard crew members observed its occupants throwing objects overboard. Four individuals onboard the semi-submersible were later identified as Freddy Montano Paz, Mariano Abregon, Calixto Tumbaco, and Hector Hernandez Saucedo.

After recovering the jettisoned packages, U.S. Coast Guard crew members conducted an inspection of the vessel and recovered 40 bales which contained 1,535 kilograms of cocaine. Montano Paz and Abregon each pleaded guilty to the conspiracy.

This case was investigated by the U.S. Coast Guard and DEA, and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Delia Smith.

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