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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Florida

Friday, December 14, 2018

Three Colombian Nationals Sentenced For Conspiring To Import More Than 1,000 Kilograms Of Cocaine Into The United States Through La Familia Michoacana Cartel In Mexico

Tampa, Florida – U.S. District Judge Susan C. Bucklew has sentenced three Colombian nationals for their roles in conspiring to import cocaine into the United States. Mauricio Ortega-Coneo was sentenced to 21 years and 10 months in federal prison, Jorge Luis Puello-Pantoja was sentenced to 19 years and 7 months’ imprisonment, and William Padilla-Garcia was sentenced to a term of 9 years in federal prison.

According to court documents, in April 2012, Ortega-Coneo and Puello-Pantoja were involved in meetings at a hotel in Bogota, Colombia, for the purpose of planning an 1,100 kilogram shipment of cocaine from Cartagena, Colombia to Honduras. The cocaine was then to be routed from Honduras to La Familia Michoacana Cartel in Mexico, for ultimate importation into the United States. Ortega-Coneo was an organizer of the conspiracy on behalf of Colombian traffickers; Puello-Pantoja was the Colombian representative of a drug trafficking organization in Honduras that was to receive the cocaine. On May 12, 2012, a vessel carrying the cocaine was intercepted approximately 157 nautical miles west of Cartagena. Padilla-Garcia was one of the crewmembers aboard the vessel. Due to the intervention of law enforcement, the cocaine never reached its destination. The defendants were arrested in Colombia in 2017 and extradited to the United States in early 2018.

This case was investigated by the Panama Express Strike Force, a standing Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) comprised of agents and analysts from the Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, and the U.S. Southern Command’s Joint Interagency Task Force. 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. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Dan Baeza.

Drug Trafficking
Updated December 14, 2018