By Ashley Cox

TAMPA, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – Acting United States Attorney Karin Hoppmann announces that six individuals have pleaded guilty to charges stemming from a conspiracy to distribute cocaine using vessels subject to the jurisdiction of the United States

  • Fernando Pineda-Jimenez, a/k/a “Padrino”, 40, Pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine on a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. Faces a minimum mandatory of 10 years in federal prison and a maximum term of life imprisonment.
  • Luis Ernesto Perez-Quevedo, a/k/a “Acuerpado”,45, Pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine on a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, and one count of conspiracy to import five kilograms or more of cocaine into the United States. Faces a minimum mandatory of 10 years in federal prison and a maximum term of life imprisonment.
  • Adrian Luna-Munoz, a/k/a “Vaca”,45,Pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine on a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. Faces a minimum mandatory of 10 years in federal prison and a maximum term of life imprisonment.
  • Yesid Eduardo Torres-Solis, a/k/a “Perro”,41, Pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine on a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. Faces a minimum mandatory of 10 years in federal prison and a maximum term of life imprisonment.
  • Hector Ruiz-Angulo, a/k/a “Maestro”, 54, Pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine on a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. Faces a minimum mandatory of 10 years in federal prison and a maximum term of life imprisonment.
  • Rodrigo Pineda-Torres, a/k/a “Gordo”, 53, Pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to import five kilograms or more of cocaine into the United States. Sentenced to 11 years and 3 months in federal prison.

A separate co-conspirator, Jimmy Riascos-Riascos, was sentenced in January 2020 to 24 years and 4 months’ imprisonment for his role in the same conspiracy. Another co-conspirator in that case, Alonso Pineda-Torres, a/k/a “Galladita,” is awaiting sentencing.

According to the plea agreements filed in this case, the defendants were part of a transnational criminal organization that dispatched self-propelled semi-submersible (SPSS) vessels, sometimes known as narco-submarines, from Colombia into the Pacific Ocean, destined for Sinaloa Cartel members in Oaxaca, Mexico. The defendants served various roles and responsibilities such as overseeing security at the SPSS construction sites and building the fiberglass hulls for these vessels. Fernando Pineda-Jimenez was identified as, and admitted to, being the boss of the organization.

In July and August 2015, and March 2016, in international waters, the United States interdicted three SPSS vessels that had departed from Colombia and were en route to Mexico. The first SPSS carried approximately 6,900 kilograms of cocaine, the August 2015 SPSS carried approximately 6,845 kilograms of cocaine, and the March 2016 SPSS contained approximately 5,824 kilograms of cocaine. In total, the SPSS vessels carried over 19,000 kilograms (or nearly 42,000 pounds) of cocaine.  A substantial portion of that cocaine was ultimately intended for the United States.  A separate SPSS, linked to Rodrigo Pineda-Torres, was seized in October 2017 in Colombia before it could be loaded with cocaine.