Federal Jury Convicts Two Colombian Nationals In Plan To Smuggle Over $45 Million Of Cocaine
Tampa, Florida – Acting United States Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow announces that a federal jury has found Gustavo Enrique Llanos Miranda (62) and Jair Mendoza Montoya (49), both of Colombia, South America, guilty of conspiring to distribute at least five kilograms of cocaine on board a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States and possessing with the intent to distribute at least five kilograms of cocaine on board a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. Llanos Miranda faces a minimum mandatory sentence of 20 years, up to life, in federal prison. Mendoza Montoya faces a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years, up to life, in federal prison. The sentencing hearings are scheduled for March 20, 2018. They were indicted on September 19, 2017.
According to evidence presented at trial, Llanos Miranda and Mendoza Montoya participated in a plan to smuggle more than 1,500 kilograms of cocaine on board a large oil tanker named FAT CROW. In August 2017, the United States Coast Guard (USCG) interdicted the vessel in international waters in the Caribbean Sea. After conducting an exhaustive search of the ship, the USCG found 1,504 kilograms of cocaine in a hidden compartment that the crew had constructed in the ship’s bow. Llanos Miranda and Mendoza Montoya, along with several other FAT CROW crewmembers, had participated in extensive negotiations with a drug cartel representative concerning their compensation for smuggling the cocaine and participated in loading the cocaine onto the ship. Five other crewmembers pleaded guilty to the conspiracy prior to trial. The wholesale value of the cocaine exceeds $45 million.
This case was investigated by agents of the Panama Express Strike Force, an OCDETF Strike Force comprised of agents 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 the 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 Assistant United States Attorneys Taylor G. Stout and Carlton C. Gammons.