TAMPA, Fla. – Three men have been sentenced to federal prison for smuggling nearly $200 million of cocaine on board a semi-submersible submarine. Carlos Chavez-Aguirre, 35, Yesid Caicedo Asprilla, 50, and David Hurtado Vallecilla, 45, all Colombian nationals, were sentenced to 20, 12, and 11 years, respectively.
The men will serve federal prison terms for conspiracy to distribute and to possess with the intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine while onboard a vessel to the United States. They had pleaded guilty in August and September 2019.
According to court documents, on June 18, 2019, while on routine patrol in the East Pacific Ocean, the United States Coast Guard Cutter Munro located a 50-ft long self-propelled semi-submersible submarine with a sealed cabin approximately 92 nautical miles northwest of Tumaco, Colombia, in international waters.
USCG law enforcement officers boarded the semi-submersible submarine while it was still moving. The boarding led to the arrest of five individuals, and the recovery of 7,683 kilograms of cocaine (almost 17,000 pounds) worth approximately $192 million.
The two remaining defendants are scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 14, 2020 and Feb. 12, 2020.
Carlos Chavez-Aguirre had previously been convicted of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with the intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine while onboard a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.