TAMPA, Fla. – A Colombian man was sentenced to 235 months in federal prison for conspiring with others to possess with intent to distribute five or more kilograms of cocaine onboard vessels subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. An investigation by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force's (OCDETF's) Panama Express South Strike Force, which includes special agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), led to the sentencing.
The U.S. Coast Guard interdicted three stateless self-propelled semi-submersible (SPSS) vessels dispatched by Neiser Guerrero-Jimenez, 33, May 6, 2008, July 28, 2009 and Aug. 11, 2009. The interdictions took place once the vessels departed the Mayorquin-area along Colombia's southern coast and entered international waters.
According to court documents, in 2009 and 2010, Guerrero-Jimenez recruited, paid, managed and dispatched mariners engaged in smuggling large quantities of cocaine using SPSS vessels. The smuggling activity took place in the eastern Pacific Ocean. Guerrero-Jimenez began as a mariner on similar, successful maritime cocaine smuggling trips. He subsequently worked his way up to become a dispatcher and manager for the organization. In this capacity, he provided instructions and navigation equipment to the captains of the SPSS vessels.
Guerrero-Jimenez was arrested June 16, 2010, by Colombian authorities. He was extradited to the United States Sept. 22.
In addition to HSI special agents, the OCDETF's Panama Express South Strike Force is comprised of agents and analysts from the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the U.S. Southern Command's Joint Interagency Task Force South.