APRIL 26 (TAMPA, Fla.) – Mark R. Trouville, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Miami Field Division, and Robert E. O'Neill, United States Attorney for the Middle District of Florida, announced the unsealing of a three-count indictment charging Camilo Torres-Martinez, aka Fritanga, (41) with conspiracy to import into the United States 5 kilograms or more of cocaine; conspiracy to manufacture and distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine, intending that it be unlawfully imported into the United States; and conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine, while on board a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. If convicted, he faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years, up to a maximum penalty of life in federal prison for each count. Torres-Martinez was extradited from Colombia to the Middle District of Florida to face these charges.
According to the indictment, from an unknown date until August 20, 2008, Martinez-Torres and his drug trafficking organization (“DTO”) transported large quantities of cocaine in vessels dispatched off the Northern coast of Colombia. Martinez-Torres was the lead operative for the DTO “Los Urabeños,” which controls Northern Colombia’s drug trade. This DTO provided maritime transportation services to cocaine owners who wished to transport their cocaine by sea, through the international waters of the Caribbean. The cocaine was transported from the coast of Colombia to Honduras, for ultimate introduction into, and distribution in, the United States. The DTO utilized speedboats and fishing vessels to transport the cocaine.
On November 8, 2004, the United States Coast Guard (USCG) interdicted a 40-foot speedboat in international waters in the Caribbean Sea. USCG personnel recovered a total of 2,652 kilograms of cocaine. On July 6, 2005, the USCG interdicted a Honduran-flagged fishing vessel, the Ocean Mystery, in international waters in the Caribbean Sea. USCG personnel recovered a total of 2,483 kilograms of cocaine. Both of these vessels were organized and sent out by Martinez-Torres and his organization. Martinez-Torres was arrested while celebrating his marriage in an elaborate wedding on a Caribbean island.
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 unless, and until, proven guilty.
This case was investigated by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force’s (OCDETF) Panama Express Strike Force, comprised of agents and analysts from DEA Tampa District Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, United States Coast Guard Investigative Service, and the Joint Interagency Task Force South. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking, and money laundering organizations, and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply.