Colombian National Sentenced To Over 17 Years For His Role In Dispatching Vessels Carrying Cocaine Intended For Distribution In The United States
Tampa, Florida – U.S. District Judge Mary S. Scriven has sentenced Omar Olmedo Paredes (55, Cocal Payan, Colombia) to 17 years and 6 months in federal prison for conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine while on board a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. Olmedo Paredes had pleaded guilty on March 31, 2022.
According to court documents, on June 17, 2015, and March 5, 2016, the United States Coast Guard (USCG) interdicted vessels in international waters. Each vessel was carrying over 500 kilograms of cocaine, and the USCG seized over 1,100 kilograms of cocaine from the two vessels. Crewmembers on both vessels stated that Olmedo Paredes was one of the individuals in charge of dispatching the vessels from a small inlet in Cocal Payan, Colombia. Olmedo Paredes hired mariners, put crewmembers in contact with other coconspirators in Colombia, had mariners stay at his house awaiting the launch of the vessels, provided engines for the vessels, gave orders, and resolved issues that arose. Olmedo Paredes and another individual brought the bales of cocaine to the launch site and counted them or instructed mariners to count them. Before dispatching the drug-laden vessels, Olmedo Paredes provided a captain with instructions and coordinates and dispatched surveillance vessels. The conspirators intended the cocaine to be distributed in the United States.
A federal grand jury indicted Olmedo Paredes in 2018, and he was arrested in Colombia in 2019. In 2021, Olmedo Paredes was extradited to the United States for prosecution in this case.
This case was investigated by the Panama Express Strike Force, an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) comprised of agents and analysts from the United States Coast Guard Investigative Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, and U.S. Southern Command’s Joint Interagency Task Force South. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at www.justice.gov/OCDETF. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michael C. Sinacore.