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  3. Colombian Sentenced for Recruiting Mariners to Traffic 12,000 Kilos of Cocaine to Sinaloa Cartel

Colombian Sentenced for Recruiting Mariners to Traffic 12,000 Kilos of Cocaine to Sinaloa Cartel

Release Date: February 2, 2024

TAMPA, Fla. — A Panama Express Strike Force, or PANEX, investigation has led to the sentencing of a Colombian national for conspiracies to recruit people and distribute narcotics.

Alonso “Galladita” Pineda-Torres, 52, of Colombia, was sentenced to 17 years and six months in federal prison for conspiring to distribute cocaine on vessels subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. Pineda-Torres entered a guilty plea on Oct. 11, 2019, after his arrest and extradition from Colombia.

According to court records, Pineda-Torres was a member of a transnational criminal organization that dispatched self-propelled semi-submersible vessels from Colombia into the Pacific Ocean. The vessels were destined for Sinaloa Cartel members in Oaxaca, Mexico. Pineda-Torres recruited crew members for these trips, delivered money to them, and assisted in the departure of a vessel. Two of the vessels were interdicted in international waters, resulting in the seizure of over 12,000 kilograms of cocaine and the prosecution of the crewmembers in the Middle District of Florida.

A standing Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), PANEX comprises agents and analysts from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI, the U.S. Coast Guard’s Investigative Service, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, and the U.S. Southern Command's Joint Interagency Task Force South. 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 Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs and the Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section’s Judicial Attache’s office at the U.S. Embassy in Bogota provided critical assistance in securing the arrest and extradition of Pineda-Torres. Assistant U.S. Attorney Dan Baeza prosecuted the case.

Last Updated: 04/22/2024
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