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Colombian Drug Lord Gets Prison For Narco-Submarine Smuggling

A Colombian drug lord dubbed "the Prince of Semi-Submersibles" was sentenced to nearly 21 years in prison for operating a fleet of narco-submarines that smuggled thousands of kilos of cocaine into the U.S. from South America, USA Today reports. Narco-submarines are makeshift nautical vehicles painted in ocean colors designed to smuggle narcotics in hermetically sealed containers across thousands of miles of ocean to illicit ports of call in other countries. The technology has progressed and has become a significant force in the international drug trade. Oscar Adriano Quintero Rengifo, 35, known as “Guatala,” was sentenced to 20 years and 10 months in federal prison for smuggling cocaine in narco-subs, said the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Florida. Quintero Rengifo was part of a transnational criminal organization that smuggled cocaine from South America to Central America for ultimate importation into the U.S. The organization primarily sent self-propelled semi-submersible vessels to Guatemala, where the cocaine was then smuggled over the Guatemala and Mexican borders, and then into the U.S., prosecutors said.

From at least January 2015 through September 2019, the U.S. Coast Guard interdicted at least four vessels, including two semi-submersibles, directly linked to the defendant’s organization, and involving more than 13,000 kilograms of cocaine. Quintero Rengifo was arrested in Colombia at the request of the U.S. in 2021. He pleaded guilty on May 20, 2022. He was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Charlene Edwards Honeywell. For years, narco submarines have been used by cartels to smuggle cocaine and other drugs, mainly from Colombia and Ecuador to Central America, Mexico and the U.S.. They allow Colombian gangs, in association with Mexican drug cartels, to move drugs fast and boost profits. This case was investigated by the Panama Express Strike Force, an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) comprised of agents and analysts from the FBI, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service, and the U.S. Southern Command's Joint Interagency Task Force South.


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