Tampa, Florida – Genaro Cuero (64, Buenaventura, Colombia) today pleaded guilty to a conspiracy violation of the Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Act. He faces a minimum mandatory term of 10 years, and up to life, in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set.
According to the plea agreement, Cuero was responsible for arranging the transportation of several maritime cocaine smuggling ventures in international waters of the Eastern Pacific Ocean. He represented the head of a drug-trafficking organization (DTO) and assisted with the smuggling of large quantities of cocaine. In April 2011, the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) interdicted a self-propelled semi-submersible (SPSS) vessel that had been dispatched from Colombia by the DTO. The mariners aboard the SPSS vessel scuttled it, but the USCG successfully recovered 93 kilograms of cocaine.
In July 2014, the USCG interdicted a go-fast vessel dispatched from Colombia by the DTO. During that intercept, the USCG seized approximately 40 kilograms of cocaine out of a total load of 200 kilograms, most of which had been jettisoned.
Cuero was arrested in Colombia in November 2017 and extradited to the United States in December 2018.
This case was investigated by the Panama Express Strike Force, a standing 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 Federal Bureau of Investigation, 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 Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs and the U.S. Embassy, Bogotá, Colombia, assisted with the extradition process. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Christopher F. Murray.