Leader Of Colombian Drug Trafficking Organization Pleads Guilty To Cocaine Importation Conspiracy
February 4, 2014
Tampa, Florida – United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces that Jose Samir Renteria-Cuero, a/k/a Jose Morfi (51, Cali, Colombia, South America) today pleaded guilty to conspiring with others to distribute five (5) kilograms or more of cocaine, on board a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. Renteria-Cuero faces a mandatory minimum penalty of ten years in federal prison, up to a maximum term of life imprisonment.
According to the plea agreement, Renteria-Cuero was involved in maritime cocaine smuggling operations from the 1980s until at least 2009. He started out as a mechanic, servicing go-fast vessels (GFVs) and participating in GFV smuggling operations. Eventually, he acquired GFVs and self-propelled semi-submersible (SPSS) vessels and recruited mariners to participate in maritime cocaine smuggling operations. Renteria-Cuero worked with others to transport and store cocaine in Colombia, construct and repair GFVs and SPSS vessels, and dispatched those stateless vessels from Colombia. Renteria-Cuero provided maritime cocaine transportation services aboard stateless vessels that were used to smuggle cocaine from Colombia to Mexico, via the Pacific Ocean, in international waters, knowing and intending that the cocaine would ultimately be imported unlawfully into the United States. Many of these ventures involved at least 1,000 kilograms of cocaine.
Renteria-Cuero was arrested in Cali, Colombia in March 2012, and subsequently extradited to the United States, first arriving at a place in the Middle District of Florida.
This case was investigated by the Panama Express South Strike Force, a standing Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation comprised of agents and analysts from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, Homeland Security Investigations, the United States Coast Guard Investigative Service, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, and U.S. Southern Command's Joint Interagency Task Force South. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and those primarily responsible for the nation’s drug supply. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Christopher F. Murray.