Eight men went before U.S. Magistrate Judge Stan Baker on Thursday in Brunswick, receiving hearings kickstarting the process to send them to serve out their sentences in their home countries. All but one were convicted in relation to cocaine trafficking, and five of the eight are Ecuadorean citizens.
Cristhian Hernan Dupre Arroba and Marco Julio Cannizzo Gaona were both part of an operation originally intended to take 500 kilograms of cocaine from Venezuela to Fort Lauderdale, Fla. But when the 1975 Gulfstream II that they used was stripped bare, the smugglers realized they only could fit 200-250 kilos into the plane.
There was another problem as well — the FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration were onto the plans early, and attached a tracking device to the aircraft. When the men returned to the Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport with $6.5 million worth of cocaine — which was branded with an embossed goat — authorities moved in and made their arrests April 24, 2015.
Dupre, of Ecuador, will return to that nation to serve the balance of his 70-month sentence there. Cannizzo will head back to Venezuela to serve the remainder of his 78-month sentence.
Tacito Orlando Salguero Intriago was indicted in January 2014 and pleaded guilty the next month to possession of narcotics for trying to bring more than 5 kilograms of cocaine to the United States. In 2013, he was arrested at La Aurora International Airport in Guatemala as part of an ongoing investigation into the Gulf cartel. He and a group of people he was with attempted to fly back to Ecuador using forged documents, carrying telephones, radio-communication systems and global positioning systems, along with $3,000 cash.
He will serve out the remainder of his 108-month sentence in Ecuador.
Jaime Alex Noboa Preciado was picked up by Coast Guard personnel while on what is known as a “go-fast boat” around 258 miles south of the Guatemala-El Salvador border with around 313 kilograms of cocaine in November 2014. He will return to Ecuador to serve out the rest of his 53-month sentence.
Jorshua Torres was also on a go-fast boat when he was detained up by the Coast Guard in January 2016, but that boat was about 90 miles southeast of Providencia, Colombia, and he and his conspirators had around 2,500 pounds of marijuana onboard. He will be transferred to Costa Rica to complete his 34-month sentence.
Victor Medrana Reyes was aboard a fishing boat, south of Guatemala in the Pacific Ocean, when an American patrol plane spotted his boat, which sported a tarp on the deck and several fuel drums, concealing cocaine. He will serve the rest of his 57-month sentence in Ecuador.
Stephen Meadows was part of a cocaine-distribution scheme in Colombia when police arrested him in Cartagena in August 2013 following an investigation by the FBI, Interpol and the Colombian police. The director of Interpol told the newspaper El Espectador that Meadows’ job was to find boat captains to transport cocaine north to Honduras and then to the United States. He will return to the United Kingdom to finish his 95-month sentence.
Also, Jimmy Gabriel Guerrero Cassierra received a 120-month sentence after accepting a plea deal in November 2014 for cocaine-related charges. He will be transferred to Ecuador to serve out his sentence.