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Monday, August 29, 2022
Colombian National Sentenced To 30 Years For Recruiting Crewmembers To Smuggle Over 1,500 Kilograms Of Cocaine On Ill-Fated Oil Freighter “Fat Crow”
The U. S. Attorney’s Office Middle District of Florida released the below information:
Tampa, FL – U.S. District Judge Steven D. Merryday has sentenced Hector Fabio Garcia Vengohechea (59, Cartagena, Colombia) to 30 years in federal prison for conspiring to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine on a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. Garcia Vengohechea had pleaded guilty on January 19, 2022.
According to court documents, on August 24, 2017, the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Tahoma interdicted the oil freighter “Fat Crow” in international waters south of Kingston, Jamaica. There were nine crewmembers on the vessel and 1,504 kilograms of cocaine concealed within. The vessel, registered in the Togolese Republic, was destined for a point off the coast of Honduras.
Garcia Vengohechea, who had a prior federal conviction for drug trafficking prosecuted in the Middle District of Florida, recruited the crewmembers of the “Fat Crow” and helped plan the venture. He also negotiated payments to the crewmembers and met with the crew prior to departure. After his arrest in Cartagena on October 10, 2019, on a provisional arrest warrant in this case, Garcia Vengohechea admitted to FBI and the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service agents that he was in charge of providing guidance to the “Fat Crow” crewmembers as well as supplies for the venture.
This case was investigated by the Panama Express Strike Force, an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) comprised of agents and analysts from the United States Coast Guard Investigative Service, Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, and U.S. Southern Command's Joint Interagency Task Force South. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at www.justice.gov/OCDETF. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Dan Baeza.
Paul Davis is a writer who covers crime. He has written extensively about organized crime, cybercrime, street crime, white collar crime, crime fiction, crime prevention, espionage and terrorism. His 'On Crime' column appears in the Washington Times and his 'Crime Beat' column appears here. He is also a regular contributor to Counterterrorism magazine and writes their online 'Threatcon' column. Paul Davis' crime fiction appears in American Crime Magazine. His work has also appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News, Philadelphia Weekly and other publications. As a writer, he has attended police academy training, gone out on patrol with police officers, accompanied detectives as they worked cases, accompanied narcotics officers on drug raids, observed criminal court proceedings, visited jails and prisons, and covered street riots, mob wars and murder investigations. He has interviewed police commissioners and chiefs, FBI, DEA, HSI and other federal special agents, prosecutors, public officials, WWII UDT frogmen, Navy SEALs, Army Delta operators, Israeli commandos, military intelligence officers, Scotland Yard detectives, CIA officers, former KGB officers, film and TV actors, writers and producers, journalists, novelists and true crime authors, gamblers, outlaw bikers, and Cosa Nostra organized crime bosses. Paul Davis has been a student of crime since he was a 12-year-old aspiring writer growing up in South Philadelphia. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy when he was 17 in 1970. He served aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Kitty Hawk during the Vietnam War and he later served two years aboard the Navy harbor tugboat U.S.S. Saugus at the U.S. floating nuclear submarine base at Holy Loch, Scotland. He went on to do security work as a Defense Department civilian while working part-time as a freelance writer. From 1991 to 2005 he was a producer and on-air host of "Inside Government," a public affairs interview radio program that aired Sundays on WPEN AM and WMGK FM in the Philadelphia area. You can read Paul Davis' crime columns, crime fiction, book reviews and news and feature articles on this website. You can read his full bio by clicking on the above photo. And you can contact Paul Davis at email@example.com