Two men, Freddy Montano Paz, 30, and Mariano Abregon, 33, were sentenced Thursday to five years in federal prison for smuggling 3,384 pounds of cocaine, while two others are still awaiting sentencing.
U.S. District Court Judge Robert Molloy sentenced the men, both Colombian citizens, to 60 months of incarceration for conspiracy to possess cocaine with intent to distribute, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney Gretchen Shappert.
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 Shappert’s office. The men were arrested after a U.S. Coast Guard marine patrol aircraft sighted the vessel on May 10 about 250 nautical miles northwest of Esmeraldes, Ecuador, according to court records.
Crews intercepted the vessel and identified the men as two Colombian citizens, one Ecuadorian citizen, and one Mexican citizen, and one of the men said they left from Colombia, according to the affidavit. The men then refused to answer further questions.
Coast Guard personnel boarded the vessel and located 40 bales containing brick-shaped packages of cocaine weighing a total of 1,535 kilograms, or 3,384 pounds, according to the affidavit.
The news release from Shappert’s office Thursday described it as a “semi-submersible vessel,” legally defined as such because “more than 80% of the vessel was under the waterline.”
All four men found aboard the vessel pleaded guilty under agreements with prosecutors. The two other men charged in the case, Calixto Tumbaco, 42, and Hector Hernandez Savcedo, 49, are still awaiting sentencing, which is currently scheduled for Jan. 21.