Colombian National Pleads Guilty to Cocaine Trafficking
Defendant connected to seizure of over 1,500 kilos of cocaine bound for Europe and the Caribbean aboard fishing vessels
BOSTON – A Colombian national pleaded guilty on Monday, Nov. 4, 2019, in federal court in Boston for his role in an international drug trafficking operation.
Henry Carrillo-Ramirez, 49, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine on board a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, and four counts of possession with intent to distribute and distribution of five kilograms or more of cocaine on board a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. Carrillo is a Colombian national who was extradited from Colombia and made an initial appearance in federal court in Boston on April 26, 2019.
In addition to Carrillo, two co-defendants have been extradited from Colombia and one co-defendant has been extradited from Spain, all three of whom have pleaded guilty. A fifth co-defendant remains a fugitive.
Since 2013, Carrillo and at least four co-conspirators were involved in an organization that trafficked cocaine – sourced in Colombia – by boat via Venezuela to Spain, Puerto Rico, and other locations. The cocaine was sourced from the Catatumbo region of Colombia and transported to Isla Margarita, Venezuela. Thereafter, based upon an agreed-upon date, time, sea coordinates, and code word, small lanchas carrying the cocaine would meet a fishing vessel located offshore arranged by co-defendant Henry Carrillo Ramirez. The lanchas provided the code word, and the drugs were then transferred to the fishing vessel for transport to points in Europe and Caribbean.
In August 2014, Colombian National Police intercepted communications regarding a shipment of cocaine from South America to Europe involving Carrillo and others. On Aug. 25, 2014, an international law enforcement operation located and boarded the vessel shipping the drugs, and seized 960 kilos of cocaine.
In November 2014, an allied British vessel carrying U.S. Coast Guard officials interdicted a boat arranged by Carrillo and others destined for Puerto Rico that was approximately 30 nautical miles west of Montseratt. Once the vessel was stopped, the crew was observed jettisoning bales of cocaine, which were recovered and weighed 180 kilograms. The remaining bales were lost at sea.
In December 2014, the Spanish Guardia Civil boarded another vessel in international waters arranged by Carrillo and others, and seized an additional 728 kilos of cocaine.
In August 2015, U.S. investigators disabled a Yamaha power boat in the Farjardo coast area of Puerto Rico that was arranged by Carrillo and others. A search of the proximate area recovered 13 bales containing nearly 400 kilograms of cocaine.
In all, law enforcement seized approximately 1,688 kilos of cocaine from this drug trafficking organization.
The conspiracy and distribution charges each provide for a sentence of up to life in prison, a lifetime of supervised release and a $10 million fine. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based on the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling and Brian D. Boyle, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, New England Division, made the announcement. Valuable assistance was provided by the Colombian National Police, the Spanish Guardia Civil and the Portuguese Air Force. Assistant U.S. Attorney Linda M. Ricci, Chief of Lelling’s Narcotics and Money Laundering Unit, is prosecuting the case.