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Press Release

Colombian Man Sentenced to One Hundred Sixty Eight Months Imprisonment for Trafficking 4,951 Kilograms of Cocaine

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Alabama

Sean P. Costello, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama, announced that Nester Javier Salazar-Montano was sentenced on August 4, 2022 to one hundred and sixty eight months imprisonment for trafficking cocaine. The sentence was handed down by United States District Court Judge Terry F. Moorer. Salazar-Montano plead guilty to violating Title 46, United States Code, Section 70506(b), Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine on Board a Vessel in April 2022.

Documents filed with the guilty plea established that on December 13, 2021, while on routine patrol, in the Eastern Pacific, a marine patrol aircraft detected a low profile go-fast vessel in international waters near Malpelo, Colombia. US Coast Guard Cutter James diverted to intercept.  The Coast Guard cutter launched an intercept vessel and helicopter, and ultimately boarded the vessel and discovered the 4,951 kilograms of cocaine on board the vessel.

Title 46 § 70506(b) makes it a federal crime for individuals to conspire to possesses with the intent to distribute drugs in international waters on, among other things, vessels that are determined to be vessels without nationality under the law. The law further states that these cases can be prosecuted in any federal court in the United States. Three other drug smugglers, Alonzo Escobar-Valenzuela, Fernando Preciado and Henry Hernadez-Garcia were with Salazar-Montano on the drug smuggling venture. They have all plead guilty and are awaiting sentencing before Judge Moorer.

U.S. Attorney Sean P. Costello praised the outstanding work of the United States Coast Guard, the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, and his prosecutor involved in the case.  Costello said, “The United States Coast Guard unfailingly lives up to its motto of “Semper Paratus” and does an outstanding job interdicting these drug smuggling vessels in international waters. The Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations then dedicates its resources and expertise to follow up and ensure these smugglers receive the full measure of justice.  There is surely a drug cartel bemoaning the seizure of more than five tons of its cocaine, and the prosecution of four of its smugglers.”
This case was investigated by the United States Coast Guard and the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney George F. May.

Updated August 12, 2022