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Colombian man behind moving cocaine on semi-submersible narco sub handed 5 years in prison

March 20, 2017  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Colombian man behind moving cocaine on semi-submersible narco sub handed 5 years in prison

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U.S. District Judge William P. Dimitrouleas has sentenced a Colombian man to over five years in federal prison as part of a drug-trafficking investigation that garnered international attention because it involved the shipment of tons of cocaine onboard of a makeshift semi-submersible vessel that looked like a submarine.

On Wednesday, Dimitrouleas sentenced Nelson Penagos in Fort Lauderdale federal court, which concluded the case against a man who came on the radar of American officials back in March 2012, after the Coast Guard noticed a strange-looking vessel floating in the waters off of the Honduran-Caribbean coast.

When the craft stopped, Coast Guard officers realized it was a semi-submersible or “narco-submarine” which is built to transport at least 3 tons of cocaine, the Miami Herald reported.

Border Protection (CBP), Air and Marine Operations (AMO) unit discovered a semi-submersible “narco submarine” vessel carrying 12,800 pounds of cocaine off the coast of Mexico last year

The 48-year-old pleaded guilty on January 6th.

Court documents indicate that the case began when detectives in Colombia associated Penagos and others to a drug-trafficking organization, which specialized in moving large amounts of cocaine in semi-submersibles from Colombia to Central America.

“Through an extensive Colombian investigation, and with the assistance of a cooperating source familiar with the Drug Trafficking Organization ’s activities, Colombian law enforcement identified the voices of defendants speaking during numerous intercepted telephone conversations planning cocaine shipments,” a document in the case file stated. Penagos reportedly played a significant role in the group’s operations.

“The role of Penagos,” the document continued, “was to transport money used as payments for the Drug Trafficking Organization’s activities, including the obtainment of materials needed to construct self-propelled semi-submersible submarines.”

The Coast Guard revealed that the drug vessels are self-propelled and can travel up to 5,000 miles.

The voyage linked to Penagos was cut short on March 29, 2012, when a U.S. government plane noticed the vessel.

When the crewmen recognized the Coast Guard, they sank the vessel in 3,000 feet of water.

No cargo was salvaged, according to documents.

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