Feds: Tip from Hampton leads to cocaine bust near Ecuador

Luis Miguel Gonzalez-Cortes (left) and Reinel Galvis Sanchez. (WYDaily/Courtesy of Western Tidewater Regional Jail)

HAMPTON, Va. (AP) — Federal officials say that a tip from drug agents working in the city of Hampton has led to a massive cocaine seizure aboard a submersible vessel off Ecuador’s coast.

Citing court documents, The Virginian-Pilot reported Wednesday said the tip came from U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents.

Court documents said that the information led to a U.S. Coast Guard seizure of nearly 2,200 pounds (990 kilograms) of cocaine from the vessel in January. Federal officials said it had a street value of nearly $100 million.

Brad Smith, a special agent with the DEA’s Hampton post, wrote in court documents that his office has been investigating cocaine smuggling from Colombia’s Pacific coast. He wrote that traffickers often use submersible vessels that travel largely just below the water surface to try to evade authorities.

Smith wrote that the DEA’s Hampton team learned of a planned transport and shared the information with other federal agencies. Two Colombian nationals are now facing federal drug charges in the U.S.

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