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September 20, 2017  
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Three Ecuadorian men and one Mexican man charged with intent to distribute 720 kilograms of cocaine after being apprehended in international waters
A first of its kind case in southern Ohio, defendants to be transported to Columbus today

SEPT 20 (COLUMBUS, Ohio) – Four defendants are being transported to Columbus, Ohio, today for federal prosecution in the Southern District of Ohio after being charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute approximately 720 kilograms of cocaine.

The defendants were apprehended in August near the Galapagos Islands, making this the first case in which the Southern District of Ohio is seeking to prosecute defendants captured in international waters.

Benjamin C. Glassman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Timothy J. Plancon, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Detroit Division, and Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, Adm. Paul Zukunft, made the announcement.

According to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint in this case, Ecuadorian nationals Hernan Emilio Caldas-Estupinan, Oscar Alipio Chila-Mendez, Carlos Alfredo Escobar-Estupinan and Mexican national Jesus Antonio Ramos-Chirino were detected in a dual engine speed boat on August 18, 2017, northwest of the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific Ocean.

The United States Coast Guard cutter James was dispatched to interdict the vessel in international waters and conduct a Right of Visit boarding. The watercraft had no flag flown, no registration documents, no registration number, homeport or name on the hull of the vessel, no identification of a sailing master and no claim of nationality for the vessel.

Coast Guard personnel collected 25 packages that had been thrown from the boat and discovered that they contained approximately 720 kilograms of cocaine.

The cocaine seized in this case is part of the 50,690 pounds of cocaine and heroin from narcotics cases in six federal districts nationwide that is being offloaded by the Coast Guard today, in San Diego, California.  Earlier today, United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the series of drug removals with the Coast Guard.

U.S. Attorney Glassman commended the investigation of this case by the DEA and United States Coast Guard, as well as Assistant United States Attorneys David DeVillers and Jonathan Grey, who are prosecuting the case.


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