Florida Keys

Four men face drug smuggling charges in Key West after big cocaine bust off Ecuador

The crew of the Coast Guard cutter Stratton gathers about $700 million worth of cocaine confiscated during a 2017 mission in the Eastern Pacific.
The crew of the Coast Guard cutter Stratton gathers about $700 million worth of cocaine confiscated during a 2017 mission in the Eastern Pacific.

Three Colombian nationals and one man from Mexico were brought to federal court in Key West this week to face cocaine trafficking charges.

The men were stopped in a speed boat off the coast of Ecuador Sept. 9 by a U.S. Coast Guard crew on patrol in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. According to a Drug Enforcement Administration arrest report, the men had 74 bales with a total of 1,730 kilograms of cocaine on board their vessel.

An MH-65 helicopter crew from the cutter Stratton ordered the driver of the “go-fast vessel,” or GFV, to stop. When he did not, a door gunner fired warning shots toward the boat. When the driver still did not comply, the gunner fired several shots into the boat’s engines.

“The GFV became dead in the water,” DEA Agent Brian Smith wrote in his report.

Pedro Rodolfo Meza Vazquez, the boat’s driver, Yiminson Renteria Caicedo, Francisco Arturo Cortes Candelo and Yany Javier Orobio Torres were brought to Key West on Tuesday, according to Smith’s report.

The Stratton is based in Alemeda, California.

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