Ecuadorian National Cops Guilty Plea After Smuggling 2,861 Pounds of Cocaine

Ecuadorian National Cops Guilty Plea After Smuggling 2,861 Pounds of Cocaine

CHRISTIANSTED — A native of Ecuador pleaded guilty to a drug conspiracy charge in federal court today, authorities said.

Anthony Rommel Cuero Garcia, 24, of Quito, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with Intent to distribute cocaine while on board a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, U.S. Attorney Delia L. Smith said.
Cuero Garcia’s sentencing date was scheduled for January 11, 2023.
According to court documents, on November 15, 2021, while on routine patrol
in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, a Maritime Patrol Aircraft spotted a low-profile vessel
approximately 77 nautical miles north of the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador.

The United States Coast Guard and Coast Guard Cutter HAMILTON was diverted to the scene. Upon arrival, Coast Guard officers encountered the low-profile vessel which was
outfitted with three outboard engines, had no flag flown, no registration numbers nor
name painted on the hull.

After boarding the vessel, the boarding team encountered four individuals later identified as Luis Rodriguez, a Columbian national, and Eliecer Pineda Torres, Carlos Benitez Estupinan and Anthony Cuero Garcia, all Ecuadorian nationals.

With no claimed nationality or master of the vessel, the vessel was determined to be subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. Thereafter, Coast Guard officers inspected the vessel and found approximately 43 bales which contained 1,298 kilograms (2,861 pounds) of cocaine.
The case was investigated by the United States Coast Guard, U.S. Drug Enforcement
Administration (DEA) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Melissa P. Ortiz.

This prosecution is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.

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