Three Venezuelan men caught with cocaine off the coast of St. Croix were sentenced Monday in court, prosecutors said.
Algler Rodriguez-Boadas, 21, Johan J. Pacheco-Lezama, 34, and Henry Gonzalez-Noriega, 48, Venezuelan nationals apprehended at sea off the coast of St. Croix, were sentenced on one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine while on board a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, said U.S. Attorney Delia L. Smith in a news release.
Pacheco-Lezama was sentenced to 46 months of imprisonment, followed by two years of supervised release, and Rodriguez-Boadas and Gonzalez-Noriega were sentenced to 41 months of imprisonment, followed by two years of supervised release. The defendants were also ordered to pay a $100 special assessment fee and are subject to deportation after serving their sentences, the release stated.
According to court documents, on Sept. 25, 2019, the United States Coast Guard Cutter Donald Horsley intercepted the “La Gran Tormenta,” a suspicious 55-foot vessel displaying Venezuelan nationality, approximately 38 nautical miles south of St. Croix.
The occupants of the vessel failed to respond to the Coast Guard’s efforts to engage in questioning and, after that, changed course and began jettisoning packages. Coast Guard crew members later detained 11 individuals onboard the vessel and retrieved two bales from the ocean, which contained packages of brick-shaped objects that tested positive for cocaine hydrochloride and weighed approximately 49 kilograms.
The United States Coast Guard, Drug Enforcement Administration, and Customs and Border Protection investigated the case, and it is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Melissa P. Ortiz.