Tampa, FL – U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday has sentenced Luis Moreno-Valencia (45, Colombia, South America) to 17 years and 6 months in federal prison for conspiring with others to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine on vessels subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, and for conspiring with others to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine intending that it be unlawfully imported into the United States. He pleaded guilty on February 15, 2018.
According to court documents, Moreno-Valencia was the organizational head of a Colombian-based drug trafficking organization. He was responsible for arranging the transportation of several maritime smuggling ventures in international waters of the Eastern Pacific Ocean. In November 2014 and December 2015, the U.S. Coast Guard interdicted over 800 kilograms of cocaine aboard vessels commonly referred to as “go fast boats.”
This case was investigated by the Panama Express Strike Force, an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) comprised of agents and analysts from the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, and U.S. Southern Command’s Joint Interagency Task Force South. 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 case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Thomas Palermo.