United States Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Florida

02/02/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 02/02/2024 12:02

Colombian National Sentenced To Over 17 Years For Recruiting Mariners To Traffic More Than 12,000 Kilograms Of Cocaine To The Sinaloa Cartel

Tampa, FL - U.S. District Judge Richard A. Lazzara has sentenced Alonso Pineda-Torres (52, Colombia), a/k/a "Galladita," to 17 years and 6 months in federal prison for conspiring to distribute cocaine on board vessels subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. Pineda-Torres entered a guilty plea on October 11, 2019, after his arrest and extradition from Colombia.

According to court records, Pineda-Torres was a member of a transnational criminal organization that dispatched self-propelled semi-submersible (SPSS) vessels from Colombia into the Pacific Ocean, destined for Sinaloa Cartel members in Oaxaca, Mexico. Pineda-Torres recruited SPSS crew members for these trips, delivered money to them, and assisted in the departure of an SPSS. Two of these SPSS vessels were interdicted in international waters, resulting in the seizure of over 12,000 kilograms of cocaine and the prosecution of the crewmembers in the Middle District of Florida.

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 Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, and the 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 Justice Department's Office of International Affairs and the Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section's Judicial Attaché's office at the U.S. Embassy in Bogota provided critical assistance in securing the arrest and extradition of Pineda-Torres. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Dan Baeza.