Florida Keys

Coast Guard crew makes huge cocaine bust


A U.S. Coast Guard crew based out of Key West stopped a speed boat carrying more than 3,000 pounds of cocaine while on patrol in the eastern Pacific Ocean earlier this month, according to a federal arrest affidavit.

The Coast Guard cutter Mohawk on Sept. 13 launched a patrol boat and helicopter to stop a “go-fast vessel” “with no visible indication of nationality” that was traveling about four mile away. As the patrol boat got within 400 yards, the speed boat turned away and “proceeded at a high rate of speed,” according to the Drug Enforcement Administration Sept. 23 arrest report.

The speed boat stopped after a short chase. The Coast Guard patrol boat’s crew boarded the vessel and saw six packages “in plain sight on the deck of the go-fast vessel that were consistent with the appearance of contraband,” DEA Special Agent Joshua Taranto wrote in his report.

The Coast Guard helicopter’s crew spotted 19 packages floating in the water nearby. Another patrol boat from the Mohawk picked up the contraband. In all, the 25 packages weighed a total of 1,550 kilograms.

The men arrested were identified as Juan Carlos Virissimo Chamorro, Orlando Antes Garces and Edward Ante Garces -- all of Colombia. They were brought to Key West to face charges of conspiracy to possess and sell more than five kilograms of cocaine while on board a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.

David Goodhue: 305-440-3204 @DavidGoodhue