New York

5 Charged in Manhattan With Trying to Smuggle Nearly 5,000 Pounds of Cocaine into the United States

The men face up to life in prison if convicted of the charges against them

Five Mexican citizens have been charged in Manhattan federal court for allegedly trying to ship nearly 5,000 pounds of cocaine to the United States in speedboats, then trying to outrun authorities in the waters off their home country. 

According to the criminal complaint made public Monday, a U.S. Navy aircraft on patrol off the western coast of Mexico July 8 noticed what appeared to be a "Go-Fast" boat, a vessel the DEA has found a Colombian drug cartel to use to ship cocaine to various parts of the world. The hulls are 20 to 50 feet and most have a maximum capacity of just five passengers. 

The Navy aircraft notified the command of the U.S. Coast Guard, which dispatched a team to intercept and board the Go-Fast. The Go-Fast was eventually intercepted, and Coast Guard members gained access to the deck, where they noticed a number of large bundles wrapped in black plastic and brown tape covering a "substantial portion" of the deck, the complaint says. 

In total, more than 100 bales and one loose brick were recovered. One of two field-tested samples indicated the presence of cocaine. A search of all the bundles yielded about 4,720 pounds or 2,141 kilos of the drug. 

The five men on the ship, who range in age from 30 to 51, were taken into custody and sent to Manhattan on Friday. They are expected to appear in federal court Monday to face charges of conspiring to violate maritime drug enforcement laws and violating maritime drug enforcement laws by possessing with the intent to distribute cocaine. Each defendant faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. 

The DEA’s New York Drug Enforcement Strike Force, which is comprised of officers from the DEA, NYPD, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement – Homeland Security Investigations, New York State Police and the U.S. Marshal Service, among other agencies, and the U.S. Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection, Navy and Naval Criminal Investigative Service assisted in the investigation and extradition. 

Manhattan Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim is in charge of the prosecution in New York.

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