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Suspected Drug Smuggler In U.S. Custody For Allegedly Trafficking 7,700 Pounds Of Cocaine

Drug Smuggler Custody Trafficking Cocaine
Source: DHS

Sep. 14 2018, Published 6:58 p.m. ET

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An alleged high-ranking member in a Colombian drug ring was transported to a federal facility in Southern California after he was extradited to face multiple charges in connection to an extensive cocaine trafficking operation, can confirm.

Victor Hugo Cuellar-Silva arrived at a federal facility on Thursday, Sept. 14, 2018, and is awaiting arraignment for felony charges on a 22-count indictment.

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According to officials with the U.S. Attorney Central District of California, Cuellar-Silva allegedly served as a top representative for one of the world’s most wanted drug traffickers, Angel Humberto Chavez-Gastelum. This operation included a network with supply routes from Colombia to Central America, and from Mexico to the United States, federal prosecutors said.

Federal authorities said the organization moved "ton-quantities" of cocaine manufactured in South American labs, and then used airplanes, submarines and boats to move the narcotics to Mexico. The drugs were then smuggled across the U.S.-Mexico border, most of which were sold in Los Angeles.

During the international three-year investigation into the drug ring, investigators seized about 7,700 pounds of cocaine with an approximate street value of $500 million, authorities said. Other significant drug seizures in connection to the global investigation include:

· approximately 1,329 kilograms of cocaine recovered when a plane that departed from Venezuela crashed into

the Caribbean Sea;

· approximately 833 kilograms of cocaine contained in bales floating off the coast of Tumaco, Colombia;

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· more than 700 kilograms of cocaine and over 30 kilograms of methamphetamine seized from a Tijuana stash


· approximately 80 kilograms of cocaine seized during two operations in Azusa, Calif;

· nearly 50 kilograms of cocaine and one-half pound of methamphetamine seized in Montebello, Calif; and

· approximately 8 kilograms of cocaine, $125,000 in cash, and a firearm seized in North Hollywood, Calif.

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“This drug ring has spread death and misery across the Americas and to other parts of the world, which makes this case among the most significant drug trafficking cases ever brought in this district,” said United States Attorney Nick Hanna. “We are deeply grateful to the government of Colombia for helping us bring one of the key defendants to justice. Prosecutors in my office are united with our domestic and foreign partners in the fight against drug trafficking. This case shows that law enforcement will apply all of its resources to dismantle international criminal organizations that terrorize communities both here and abroad.”

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If found guilty of all charges, Cuellar-Silva would face a mandatory life sentence for his participation as a “principle manager of the enterprise,” officials with the U.S. Attorney Central District of California said.

Authorities also arrested and indicted six other defendants from California and Boston for their involvement in the global drug operation. Meanwhile, authorities are still looking for alleged international drug trafficking ring leader Chavez-Gastelum, who is believed to be in Mexico.

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