Puerto Rico Man Sentenced to 10 Years as Member of Maritime Cocaine-Trafficking Conspiracy
MILWAUKEE -- John G. McGarry, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of Drug Enforcement Administration-Wisconsin, and U.S. Attorney Gregory J. Haanstad for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, announced that on Dec. 2, 2022, Jose Crespo-Lorenzo, a/k/a “El Colombiano”, 60, of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison, followed by four years of supervised release, for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine on board a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.
According to court documents, beginning around October 2019, Crespo-Lorenzo and others sought to coordinate the maritime shipment of bulk quantities of cocaine from the Dominican Republic to Puerto Rico. Crespo-Lorenzo, who was in the Dominican Republic at the time, and his Dominican-based associates planned to release a cocaine-laden vessel near Miches, Dominican Republic.
The vessel would meet a maritime crew sent by David Quinones-Quinones, a Puerto Rican-based cocaine trafficker, at agreed coordinates, which corresponded to a location approximately seven miles southwest of the Desecheo National Wildlife Refuge. At the designated meet location, Crespo-Lorenzo’s crew planned an at-sea transfer of 100 kilograms (approximately 220 pounds) of cocaine with Quinones-Quinones’s crew. Quinones-Quinones would supply other Puerto Rico-based traffickers who were responsible for sending kilogram-quantities of cocaine to various locations in the continental United States, including Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Court records indicate that on Nov. 16, 2019, Crespo-Lorenzo and his Dominican-based associates released a cocaine-laden vessel from a location near Miches with the expectation that it would meet Quinones-Quinones’s maritime crew to conduct an at-sea transfer at the agreed coordinates. Yet, in the early-morning hours of Nov. 17, 2019, Crespo-Lorenzo’s maritime crew spotted what they suspected was a Coast Guard patrol and dumped the cocaine load into the water.
Although Crespo-Lorenzo and Quinones-Quinones agreed to arrange a subsequent maritime cocaine load, the plan did not come to fruition as Quinones-Quinones was arrested in January 2020 in relation to the investigation underlying this prosecution, and he currently is serving a 130-month sentence in federal prison.
“This case demonstrates an extraordinary effort by federal, state, and local law enforcement to hold accountable those involved in international drug-trafficking activity designed to flood the streets of the United States and other parts of the world with harmful controlled substances,” U.S. Attorney Haanstad said.
“The sentence imposed reflects the commitment of the DEA, alongside our local and federal law enforcement and prosecution partners, to hold accountable external actors seeking to inflict harm upon our communities through the trafficking of illicit, deadly drugs,” DEA Wisconsin ASAC McGarry said.
“Complex, collaborative investigations that dismantle large-scale drug trafficking operations help stem the supply of illegal drugs into Wisconsin communities,” said Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul. “Thank you to the many law enforcement officers, including Wisconsin DOJ Division of Criminal Investigation agents, who worked on this significant investigation.”
This prosecution is the product of a multi-year investigation into international drug-trafficking activity, including maritime shipments of bulk quantities of cocaine ultimately intended to reach various locations within the continental United States (such as Milwaukee, Wisconsin) or elsewhere. The investigation was led by law enforcement agents and officers from the DEA, the North Central High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), the Wisconsin Department of Justice, Division of Criminal Investigations, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the United States Postal Inspection Service, and the Milwaukee Police Department.
Assistant United States Attorney Robert J. Brady, Jr. and Assistant United States Attorney Gail Hoffman prosecuted the case.