The United States Coast Guard said it recovered seven tons of cocaine from a narco sub, a self-propelled semi-submersible vessel that is used to transport illegal drugs. The drugs were brought to shore Monday in St. Petersburg, Florida, and will be handed over to the United States Attorney‚Äôs Office for the Middle District of Florida where the case is being handled.
This is the third semi-submersible to be stopped by the Coast Guard in the Caribbean Sea and the second interdiction by the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Mohawk.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôve got two within about two weeks of each other,‚ÄĚ said Coast Guard Cmdr. Mark J. Fedor, the Mohawk's commanding officer. ‚ÄúIt really makes you wonder how many of these things might be coming through.‚ÄĚ
This recent semi-submersible that didn‚Äôt make it past law enforcement was stopped by the Mohawk on September 30.
‚ÄúIt was spotted by a maritime patrol aircraft,‚ÄĚ Fedor said. ‚ÄúWe were a long way away from it.¬† We had to run at full sped for about 12 to 15 hours until we were in a spot to make the interdiction.‚ÄĚ
It was dark when the Mohawk arrived at the vessel, which was off the coast Honduras, said Fedor. A small boat that the Mohawk launched fired warning shots across the bow of the narco sub when it refused to stop.
‚ÄúOnce we did that they stopped,‚ÄĚsaid Fedor, ‚Äúand right after they stopped they scuttled the vessel.‚ÄĚ
During the other interdictions, July 13 and September 17, the narco subs were also sunk by the crew.
‚ÄúThe thing sank beneath them just as the other one did, the only down side was no bales floated to the top,‚ÄĚ said Fedor, ‚Äúbut what we did know was that boat sank in only 80 feet of water.‚ÄĚ
Fedor requested that divers be brought to the scene to try and bring the drugs to the surface. A few weeks after the initial stop the Coast Guard said the FBI‚Äôs technical dive team found the semi-submersible and recovered the cocaine cargo. The cargo is now evidence against the vessel‚Äôs four crew members.
The U.S. Attorney‚Äôs office said in a press release, the crew, Jorge Colomer, 47, of Honduras; Guilforth Romero, 24, of Honduras; Manuel Cuero, 30, of Colombia; and Marcos Salazar, 30, of Colombia, have been indicted by a federal grand jury, accused of violating the Drug Trafficking Vessel Interdiction Act of 2008.¬† If convicted they each face a maximum sentence of 15 years in federal prison.