Pubdate: Fri, 17 Feb 2006
Source: Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
Copyright: 2006 Sun-Sentinel Company
Author: Madeline Baro Diaz, Miami Bureau
Bookmark: (Cocaine)


The Story Seemed A Bit Fishy.

When the USS Ford stopped a 40-foot boat in international waters 
north of Panama this month, the master of the boat allegedly said he 
had 300 pounds of fish on board.

Then he changed his story, saying he had tossed all the fish, 
according to the Coast Guard, which had crew members aboard the Navy frigate.

As the Navy and Coast Guard investigated, however, they couldn't even 
find fishing poles or line aboard. Removing a hidden compartment, 
they said they found the boat's true cargo, about a ton of cocaine, 
estimated to be worth about $66 million.

On Thursday, federal officials announced the arrests of the four men 
aboard, Abel Pardo Salguedo, the ship's master, and crew members 
Alberto Cortes, Dionisio Velez Tarquino and Carlos Arturo Moreno.

According to an affidavit filed by an Immigration and Customs 
Enforcement agent, Salguedo claimed the boat, named Victoria, was 
Colombian, but the Navy and Coast Guard determined the boat had 
improper registration numbers and was stateless, giving them 
jurisdiction to board.

The affidavit said the fishing boat also tried to ram the Navy vessel 
and the Victoria crew tried to sink their boat by pumping in sea water.

The men were charged in a federal criminal complaint with possession 
and conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five or more 
kilograms of cocaine.
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