Federal Jury Convicts Three Mexican Nationals In Plan To Smuggle Over $150,000,000 Worth Of Cocaine
Tampa, Florida – United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces that a federal jury has found Lucio Molina Marroquin (38, Mexico), Robison Perez Montez (39, Mexico), and Javier Noyola Ruiz (40, Mexico) guilty of conspiring to possess five kilograms or more of cocaine with the intent distribute it while onboard a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. Each faces a mandatory minimum penalty of ten years, up to life, in federal prison. A sentencing hearing has been set for July 1, 2016.
According to evidence presented at trial, on July 6, 2015, a self-propelled semi-submersible (SPSS) vessel piloted by four Colombian nationals departed Colombia with more than 6,000 kilograms of cocaine. The vessel then traveled over 1,000 miles before arriving at its final destination, a point 200 nautical miles south of Puerto Escondido, Mexico. The vessel waited there for Mexican vessels to arrive to offload the drugs at sea.
Marroquin, Montez, and Ruiz were members of an advance team sent to verify the SPSS vessel’s arrival, check for law enforcement presence in the area, and then contact the organizers in Mexico so additional boats could be sent to rendezvous with the SPSS vessel and offload the cocaine. On July 18, 2015, before the offload could occur, the SPSS vessel was detected by a United States maritime patrol aircraft and interdicted by a boarding team from United States Coast Guard Cutter STRATTON.
This case was investigated by the Panama Express South Strike Force, a standing Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), comprised of agents and analysts from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the Drug Enforcement Administration, 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. This case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney James Zoll and Assistant United States Attorney Christopher F. Murray.