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News Release
October 19, 2005

Narcotics Traffickers Sentenced to Imprisonment

Mark R. Trouville, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration, Miami Field Division, and R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, announced that defendant, Elias Cobos-Munoz, was sentenced October 19, 2005, to 235 months, followed by a 5 years supervised release. Cobos-Munoz had pled guilty on August 10, 2005 to one count of conspiracy to import cocaine into the United States, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Sections 963 and 952(a).

During the plea, Cobos-Munoz admitted to having supervised the transportation of cocaine loads, to having invested money in the cocaine loads, and to having acted as liaison between drug organization members in the United States, Colombia, Jamaica, and the Bahamas between July 2000 and June 2004. Cobos-Munoz also admitted that he was involved in the attempted importation into South Florida of 1,032 kilograms of cocaine in January 2002. This shipment was successfully intercepted by agents of the DEA and other law enforcement officials.

The charges against Cobos-Munoz were the result of a long-term Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation, “Operation Busted Manatee,” led by the DEA (Miami, Cartagena, Ottawa, Nassau, and Kingston Offices), with assistance from the Florida Highway Patrol, the South Florida Money Laundering Strike Force, the Colombian National Police, the Royal Bahamas Police Force/Drug Enforcement Unit, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Panama Judicial Police and prosecutors from the Asset Forfeiture Money Laundering Section of the Department of Justice. Operation “Busted Manatee” is part of DEA’s Caribbean Initiative targeting South American drug organizations that have used the Caribbean corridor to ship drugs into the United States, Canada and other countries.

According to court records, the Cobos-Munoz drug trafficking organization was one of the largest cocaine distribution networks operating out of Colombia, Jamaica, Panama, and the Bahamas. The organization used maritime and air assets to traffic cocaine into the United States from transshipment points throughout the Caribbean to smuggle thousands of kilograms of cocaine into South Florida since 2000.

To date, Operation Busted Manatee has seized more than 6,000 kilograms of cocaine in the United States, Colombia, and the Bahamas, resulting in at least seven other related Indictments in the Southern District of Florida.

Cobos-Munoz was one of twenty-one (21) defendants indicted in a Superseding Indictment returned June 1, 2004. Co-defendant Pierre Belanger was also sentenced and received an 135 month term of imprisonment joining four co-defendants sentenced to various terms of imprisonment earlier this year.

Mr. Acosta commended the investigative efforts of the Drug Enforcement Administration for their work on this case.

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