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Colombian Who Aided In Delivery Of 1,355 Pounds Of Marijuana Gets 2.75 Years

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — A Columbian traveling in a go-fast boat with 1,355 pounds of marijuana off the Pacific coast of Columbia got 2.75 years in prison after his conviction as a drug trafficker.

Cristian Valencia-Mendoza of Bogota, was sentenced to 33 months in prison after being found guilty of conspiracy to possess and possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute on board a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, U.S. Attorney Gretchen C.F. Shappert said.

According to court documents, Valencia-Mendoza was on board a go-fast style vessel that was intercepted by a U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) cutter while on routine patrol.

The USCG first sighted the go-fast vessel on October 18, 2019, at about 45 nautical miles north of Malpelo Island, Columbia. The vessel did not have any display indicating its nationality.

The USCG boarded the vessel and successfully seized 21 bales of marijuana, which weighed approximately 1,355 pounds, and arrested the two individuals on board.

Valencia-Mendoza later confessed to being hired to assist the boat captain in delivering the drugs.

A federal jury returned guilty verdicts on January 22, 2020.

United States District Court Judge Robert A. Molloy sentenced Mendoza to thirty-three (33) months imprisonment followed by two years of supervised release.

The captain of the vessel, Centeno A. Hansel-Andres, of the Dominican Republic, previously pled guilty and was sentenced to thirty seven (37) months in prison.

This case was investigated by the United States Coast Guard (USCG) and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

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