Three Ecuadorian men were charged with possessing 800 kilograms of cocaine, United States Attorney Delia L. Smith announced Thursday.
Luis Menocal-Mero, alias “Luis Menoscal,” 38, Carlos Anchundia-Mero, 22, and Carlos BaquePincay, 21, were charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine while on board a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, according to the press release.
According to court documents, on March 8, during a routine patrol in international waters in the Eastern Pacific, United States Coast Guard Cutter Farragut intercepted a go-fast vessel after it was sighted approximately 110 nautical miles southeast of the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador. The vessel displayed no indicia of nationality, and no flag was flown. Coast Guard officers boarded the vessel to conduct an inspection and discovered 30 bales containing approximately 800 kilograms of individually wrapped, brick-shipped packages of cocaine on the deck and fish-hold areas of the vessel. One of the occupants of the vessel claimed Ecuadorian nationality, but Ecuador could neither confirm nor deny nationality of the vessel. The vessel was therefore deemed to be one without nationality, thus subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. If convicted, the defendants face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum of life imprisonment.
This case is being investigated by the United States Coast Guard and Drug Enforcement Administration and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Melissa P. Ortiz. The prosecution is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.