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Press Release

Venezuelan Men Plead Guilty to High Seas 1400kg Cocaine Conspiracy

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Virginia

NORFOLK, Va. – Two Venezuelan citizens pleaded guilty today and yesterday to conspiracy to distribute cocaine on board a vessel in international waters.

According to court documents, on May 16, 2023, Juan Milano, 50, and Carlos Marcano, 31, were found with two others by a U.S. Navy ship and its Naval and Coast Guard personnel on board a go-fast boat in international waters while in possession of over 1400 kilograms of cocaine. The go-fast vessel was without nationality, and none of its crew declared their nationality, the flag nationality of the vessel, or claimed to be its master.

Milano is schedule to be sentenced on December 14 and Marcano, who pleaded yesterday, is scheduled to be sentenced on December 13. They each face a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life imprisonment. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Milano and Marcano were prosecuted as part of a joint interagency partnership between the U.S Coast Guard, U.S. Navy, the Department of Justice including the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Department of Homeland Security, and select U.S. Attorney offices in the United States and its territories. 

Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Jarod Forget, Special Agent in Charge for the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Washington Division; Derek W. Gordon, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington, D.C.; William P. Hicks II, Special Agent in Charge, Coast Guard Investigative Service, Chesapeake Region, made the announcement after U.S. District Senior Judge Raymond A. Jackson.

The Narcotics and Dangerous Drug Section of the Department of Justice assisted in this investigation. The Joint Interagency Task Force South (JIATF-S), a United States multiservice, multiagency task force, also assisted in this investigation.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin M. Comstock is prosecuting the case.

Congress has declared drug trafficking on vessels in international waters a serious international problem universally condemned and one that presents a specific threat to the security and societal well-being of the United States.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 2:23-cr-85.

Updated August 10, 2023

Drug Trafficking