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Colombian Sub Packed With 5,500 Pounds Of Cocaine Worth $72M Seized By Feds

SAN JUAN — Federal agents from Puerto Rico seized a record 2,500 kilos of cocaine off a man-made submarine from Colombia earlier this month.

The vessel is the first of its kind to be intercepted in the Caribbean Sea, W. Stephen Muldrow, United States Attorney District of Puerto Rico, said in a press conference Monday.

The semi-submersible vessel set off from Colombia and was headed to Puerto Rico to deliver a shipment of cocaine worth $72 million when it was intercepted by the Coast Guard at least 152 miles off the northern coast of the Colombian port city of Punta Gallinas on April 8. 

Colombian nationals Arturo González-Quiñones, Freiman Yepes-Ospina, and José Álvaro Córdoba-Rentería were arrested and indicted by a federal grand jury April 4. 

They were charged in a four-count indictment that includes charges of conspiracy to possess a large quantity of cocaine with the intent to distribute it in Puerto Rico.

Muldrow revealed González-Quiñones is the same person he accused in a separate drug trafficking case during his time as a federal prosecutor in Tampa, Florida, in 2008. 

González-Quiñones was released on bail in 2019, according to Telemundo Puerto Rico.

Muldrow indicated it will be the first time that Puerto Rico prosecute drug traffickers under the 2008 Drug Trafficking Vessel Interdiction Act.

The United States Congress policy prohibits ‘operation of or travel in unregistered submersibles and semi-submersibles in international waters with the intent to evade detection.’ 

The vessel is approximately 52-feet long and eight-feet wide. The sub has a 25-foot compartment where the large cocaine bundles were hidden.

Muldrow said that the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force (CCSF) has seized more than 17,000 kilos of cocaine – holding an estimated worth of $500 million – during fiscal year 2021. 

Authorities so far have charged 82 defendants linked to the drug trafficking seizures.  

‘The CCSF will also continue to pursue the command and control elements of the transnational criminal organizations involved in these drug trafficking and related money laundering activities,’ Muldrow said. 

‘Rest assured that we are steadfast in our resolve to protect our borders and our community from these criminal cartels.’ 

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