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Press Release

Costa Rican Man Sentenced to 46 Months for Smuggling over 4,000 Pounds of Marijuana

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Virgin Islands

St. Croix, VI – United States Attorney Delia L. Smith announced today that Keyran Coto Lopez, 28, of Costa Rica, was sentenced by Judge Wilma Lewis to 46 months incarceration after pleading guilty to Possession with Intent to Distribute over 4,000 pounds of marijuana on board a vessel subject to jurisdiction of the United States. Co-defendants Alonso Hernandez Hernandez and Luis Orellana-Orellana, both also from Costa Rica, are scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Lewis on November 28, 2023, and December 1, 2023, following their guilty pleas.

According to court documents, on November 7, 2022, while patroling in international waters in the Eastern Pacific, 65 nautical miles South of Boca Chica, Panama, the United States Coast Guard Cutter Campbell intercepted a go-fast vessel with no physical flag flown and no registration documents onboard. Bundles of contraband were visible on the deck of the go-fast vessel and Lopez and two other occupants were located on board. One of the three men on board claimed Colombian nationality for the go-fast vessel, but the Colombian Government neither confirmed nor denied nationality of the vessel. A search of the go-fast vessel by Coast Guard officers resulted in the recovery of 4,104 pounds of marijuana.

This case was investigated by the United States Coast Guard and Drug Enforcement Administration and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Melissa P. Ortiz. This effort is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at

Updated January 19, 2024

Drug Trafficking