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Colombian drug trafficking organization leader sentenced to federal prison

TAMPA, Fla. — A Colombian man was sentenced Monday to 18 years in federal prison for conspiring with others to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, knowing and intending that the cocaine would be unlawfully imported into the United States. This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) Panama Express North Strike Force.

According to court documents, between 2010 and 2013, Vinston Boxton-Moises, 49, of San Andres Island, Colombia, was documented as having dispatched approximately 7.7 tons of cocaine on go-fast vessels (GFVs) ultimately destined for the United States and was a knowing and willing participant in an ongoing plan to smuggle cocaine by sea. The cocaine was ultimately destined for unlawful importation into the United States. Boxton's roles in the conspiracy included recruiting and paying mariners and mechanics, contracting for the use of smuggling and lookout/logistics vessels, and dispatching cocaine-laden go-fast vessels.

"Dismantling drug trafficking organizations is one of the main objectives of our Strike Force," said Susan L. McCormick. "In our efforts to make our country safer, HSI will continue using our worldwide resources to identify and dismantle drug trafficking and money laundering organizations."

Boxton is accountable for the GFV Tauply, interdicted by the United States in the Caribbean Sea May 31, 2012, on the high seas and in international waters, approximately 85 nautical miles southeast of Nicaragua. The Tauply interdiction resulted in the seizure of approximately 1,000 kilograms of cocaine. Boxton arranged for the recruitment and payment of the mariners who ultimately operated Tauply and attempted to smuggle the cocaine. The Government of Colombia consented to the enforcement of U.S. law by turning over the Tauply, its illicit cargo (cocaine), and crew. The five mariners who smuggled the cocaine on board the Tauply were successfully prosecuted in the United States for violations of the Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Act.

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 OCDETF is comprised of special agents and analysts from HSI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI, the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service and U.S. Southern Command's Joint Interagency Task Force South. Significant assistance for this case was provided by HSI Cartagena office.