WASHINGTON – A former Colombian maritime training instructor and a co-conspirator were sentenced to federal prison today for conspiring to transport thousands of kilograms of cocaine from various ports along the coast of Colombia to waiting vessels that transported the cocaine to the United States and other countries, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.
Wilson Jesus Torres-Torres, a Colombian maritime training instructor, and Baudilio Vivero-Cardenas, were sentenced to 144 months and 96 months in prison, respectively. They pleaded guilty on Dec. 30, 2010, before U.S. District Judge Ellen S. Huvelle in the District of Columbia to one count of conspiracy to violate the Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Act.
Torres-Torres and Vivero-Cardenas were charged in a one-count indictment returned in the District of Columbia on Feb. 24, 2009. They were arrested in Colombia on Sept. 30, 2009. Vivero-Cardenas was extradited to the United States on Sept. 2, 2010, and Torres-Torres was extradited to the United States on Sept. 23, 2010.
According to court documents, from September 2005 to February 2009, Torres-Torres and Vivero-Cardenas were members of a Colombian drug trafficking organization based in Buenaventura, Colombia, that transported large quantities of cocaine for various other drug trafficking organizations. The defendants admitted that they used fishing vessels and “go-fast” boats to transport thousands of kilograms of cocaine from various ports along the coast of Colombia to waiting transport vessels on the high seas, which would transport the cocaine to the United States and other countries. According to court documents, the vessels involved in the conspiracy were equipped with high frequency radios, global positioning system devices, satellite telephones, large amounts of fuel, and multiple outboard motors to facilitate the transport of cocaine over long distances on the high seas until the destination or off-loading rendezvous point was reached.
The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Charles D. Griffith Jr., Meredith A. Mills and Tritia L. Yuen of the Criminal Division’s Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section. The investigation was led by the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Miami Field Division; Washington, D.C., Office; Cartagena, Colombia, Resident Office; and the Special Operations Division. Significant assistance was provided by the U.S. Coast Guard in interdicting and recovering more than 21,000 kilograms of cocaine.