Crew from the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Stratton stop a Self-Propelled Semi Submersible (SPSS) off the coast of Central America in this U.S. Coast Guard picture taken July 18, 2015 and released August 5, 2015. REUTERS/U.S. Coast Guard/Petty Officer 2nd Class LaNola Stone

Columbian Drug Smuggler Dubbed the ‘Prince of Semi-Submersibles’ Sentenced to Federal Prison

Mike Schuler
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May 9, 2023

A Colombian national who was dubbed the “Prince of Semi-Submersibles” by Colombian media has been sentenced to 20 years and 10 months in U.S. federal prison.

Oscar Adriano Quintero Rengifo was found guilty of smuggling cocaine into the United States as part of a transnational criminal organization that trafficked drugs from South America to Central America for importation into the United States. He was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Charlene Edwards Honeywell in Tampa, Florida on Monday.

Quintero Rengifo, also known as “Guatala”, was arrested in Colombia on January 29, 2021, at the request of the U.S. He was extradited to the U.S. nearly a year later and, on May 20, 2022, pleaded guilty as part of plea agreement.

Court documents show that he was involved in smuggling cocaine using vessels such as self-propelled semi-submersible vessels to Guatemala, from where the drug was smuggled across the Guatemala/Mexico border and then into the United States.

The organization was overseen by a former mayor in Guatemala who controlled drug routes in northern Guatemala into Mexico, and Quintero Rengifo progressed from organizing smuggling operations to investing in shipments and securing investors. From at least as early as January 2015 through September 2019, the U.S. Coast Guard interdicted at least four vessels, including two semi-submersible vessels, directly linked to the defendant’s organization, and involving more than 13,000 kilos of cocaine.

The case, part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation, was investigated by the Panama Express Strike Force, a standing Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) comprising agents and analysts from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service, and the U.S. Southern Command’s Joint Interagency Task Force South.

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