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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of California

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Captain of Drug Smuggling Vessel Sentenced to 104 Months

Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Ari Fitzwater (619) 546-8756 and Assistant U. S. Attorney Connie Wu (619) 546-8592 


NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – November 14, 2017


SAN DIEGO – Jesus Armando Portocarrero-Angulo was sentenced yesterday by U.S. District Judge Roger T. Benitez to 104 months in prison and 5 years of supervised release for possessing with intent to distribute over 1,370 pounds of cocaine while onboard a vessel.


On October 4, 2016, defendant Portocarrero-Angulo was acting as the captain of the go-fast vessel “Pez Sierra,” which was traveling in international waters. While on routine patrol, a maritime patrol aircraft observed the occupants of the vessel throwing bales of suspected contraband overboard into the ocean.


A helicopter launched from the United States Coast Guard Cutter Waesche approached the defendant’s  vessel, which was traveling in the Eastern Pacific Ocean about 175 nautical miles northeast of the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador.  The helicopter signaled the defendant’s vessel to stop, but it refused to do so. The helicopter used warning shots, and then precision fire to disable the vessel. The Coast Guard recovered approximately 21 bales of cocaine previously thrown overboard from the defendant’s vessel.


Portocarrero-Angulo pleaded guilty in August. Two additional crewmembers who were onboard the go-fast vessel have also pleaded guilty and are scheduled for sentencing before Judge Benitez on January 8, 2018.


This case is the result of the ongoing efforts by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), a partnership that brings together the combined expertise and unique abilities of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, dismantle and prosecute high-level members of drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering organizations and enterprises.


DEFENDANT                                                           Case Number 16cr2555                                           

Jesus Armando Portocarrero-Angulo                          Age: 33                                   Ecuador




Possession of Cocaine with Intent to Distribute on Board a Vessel – Title 46, U.S.C., Section 70503

Maximum penalty: 40 years in prison and $5,000,000 fine




Drug Enforcement Administration

United States Coast Guard



Drug Trafficking
Press Release Number: 
Updated November 14, 2017