US authorities seize cocaine shipments week after week that are camouflaged by boats. Archive

Three Ecuadorans and a Colombian were found aboard a speedboat last July between Guatemala and El Salvador in the Pacific Ocean, apparently carrying cocaine, will be tried in Miami for drug trafficking.

This is just is one more of the many cases of boats with cocaine bales intercepted by US authorities at sea, arriving every month in the Federal Court of the Southern District of Florida, and whose increase has been the subject of discussion in legal circles.

This recent case was recorded on July 16 and its description has all the elements of a movie.

It all started when a US Marine Patrol helicopter sighted a speedboat 430 nautical miles south of Guatemala and El Salvador.

The aircraft approached the boat and realized that it had no flag of any country, but noted that it was manned and carrying multiple bales, which raised suspicion.

Then began the style of Hollywood: after activating the emergency lights of the helicopter and the men’s refusal to stop the boat, warning shots were quickly fired from the aircraft.

And just at that moment the engines of the boat stopped.

US officials promptly headed in a small boat to that watercraft and on the way recovered one of the bales that had fallen to the sea during the chase.

The crew of the boat identified as Lenin Darío Iler Reyes, Miguel Angel Anchundia Saltos and Angel Marcelo Quiroz Mastarreno (the three Ecuadorians) and Edwin David Ruiz Bravo (Colombian) they claimed to to be “hunting sharks”.

Although the suspects of transporting drugs assured that the boat belonged to Ecuador and that it had left the Port of Manta, “the government of that country did not confirm or deny the nationality of the persons, that’s why they had to be treated as if not having any nationality and therefor became subject To US jurisdiction, “according to the case file.

During the inspection there was no evidence that these South Americans were fishing. On the contrary, they carried large quantities of gasoline on board.

Then another movie image was recorded: the boat was destroyed because it was “dangerous to navigate”.

The authorities were able to recover another 11 bales for a total of 12, and confirmed that they contained more than half a ton of cocaine: 759 kilograms.

The crew were arrested and brought to Miami, where next Monday the prosecution will accuse them of drug distribution, a charge that carries a minimum sentence of 10 years in a federal prison.

The detention of Hispanics in international waters by US authorities and their prosecution in the Miami court has been a subject that has stirred controversy in recent times.

“Often they are fishermen or farmers who do not know how to read or write and to whom drug trafficking networks offer $ 2,500 in exchange for bringing drugs.

This kind of money for them is a fortune, as fishing alone can earn “$ 200 a month,” said lawyer Ricardo Hermida, who represents Miguel Angel Anchundia Saltos.

A similar position was expressed months ago by attorney Marc David Seitles, who represented a Guatemalan who carried cocaine in a boat called Cristiano Ronaldo that was intercepted 450 miles from the Galápagos Islands, west of Ecuador.

“Another impoverished fisherman with a second-degree education who faces a minimum of 10 years in a federal prison. Is this fighting drugs? It’s laughable, “Seitles said during a hearing in late April.


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