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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2613

Four defendants including a Sri Lankan indicted for cocaine smuggling in semi-submersible vessel

Tampa, Florida, 05 December, (Asiantribune.com): Office of the United States Attorney for Middle District of Florida, Attorney Paul I. Perez announced that four defendants including a Sri Lankan were indicted yesterday under two counts.

Attorney Paul I. Perez Tampa of Florida announced that in conjunction with 'Operation Panama Express', the unsealing of a two-count indictment of –

Adelmo Torres-Aguirre, a 32-year-old resident of Colombia,

Abimelec MurilloMosquera, a 41-year-old resident of Colombia,

Robis Osuel Solis-Caceres, a 42-year-old resident of Guatemala, and

Rajakumar Rajadurai, a 52-year-old Sri Lankan who is a resident alien of Colombia,

- Charging them with violations of the Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Act.

Count one charges: a conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, while on board a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.

Count two charges: aiding and abetting in the possession with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, while on board a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.

The maximum penalties each defendant faces if convicted on all counts are life imprisonment and a fine of $4 million.

The defendants were expected to make their initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mary S. Scriven in federal court yesterday at 2:00 p.m. in Tampa.

According to the indictment and an earlier filed Complaint, on November 16, 2006, the United States Coast Guard Cutter ‘Steadfast’, while on routine patrol in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, encountered an unidentified Self-Propelled Semi-Submersible (SPSS) vessel on a northwesterly heading traveling at five knots, approximately 90 nautical miles southwest of Cabo Blanco, Costa Rica, in international waters.

A law enforcement boarding team launched from the ‘Steadfast’ observed the four crew members of the SPSS, defendants Torres-Aguirre, Murillo-Mosquera, Solis-Caceres , and Rajadurai, exit through a hatch located in the middle of the vessel.

On board the SPSS, the boarding team located and seized numerous bales of cocaine, weighing approximately 7000 lbs. or 2.9 tons, in the forward section of the vessel, on top of the fuel tanks, and in the engine room. A loaded AK-47 rifle was also found and seized on the vessel.

All four defendants were arrested and transported to the Middle District of Florida to be prosecuted.

T h i s case was investigated by the Operation Panama Express task force which comprises the United States Coast Guard (USCG), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The case was will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Matthew H. Perry.

An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of the federal criminal laws, and every defendant is presumed innocent until, and unless, proven guilty.

- Asian Tribune -

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