TAMPA, Fla. – A Colombian man pleaded guilty Wednesday to three counts of conspiracy to traffic more than five kilograms of cocaine while onboard a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, including importing, manufacturing and possessing the drug with intent to distribute. The guilty plea resulted from an investigation conducted by the Panama Express Strike Force, an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, which includes U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
According to court documents, Camilo Torres-Martinez, aka Fritanga, 41, admitted to coordinating cocaine transportation operations from 2001 until June 2012. He and his drug trafficking organization transported large quantities of cocaine in vessels dispatched off the northern coast of Colombia. They transported the cocaine from the coast of Colombia to Honduras, for ultimate introduction into, and distribution in, the United States. The drug trafficking organization utilized speedboats and fishing vessels to transport the drugs.
On Nov. 8, 2004, the U.S. Coast Guard interdicted a 40-foot speedboat in international waters in the Caribbean Sea. U.S. Coast Guard personnel recovered 2,652 kilograms of cocaine. On July 6, 2005, the U.S. Coast Guard interdicted a Honduran-flagged fishing vessel, the Ocean Mistery, in international waters in the Caribbean Sea, and U.S. Coast Guard personnel recovered 2,483 kilograms of cocaine. Both of these drug transport operations were organized by Torres-Martinez.
Torres-Martinez faces between 10 years and life in federal prison for each count. He was extradited from Colombia to the Middle District of Florida to face these charges.
In addition to HSI, the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service and the Joint Interagency Task Force South also participate in the Panama Express Strike Force.