Entries in Cocaine (7)


‘Godmother of Cocaine’ Gunned Down in Colombia: Reports

Florida Department of Corrections(WASHINGTON) -- A 69-year-old woman known throughout the drug world as the “Godmother of Cocaine” was gunned down by an assassin on a motorcycle in Colombia Monday, according to international news reports.

Griselda Blanco, once listed alongside Pablo Escobar as one of the “most notorious drug lords of the 1980s” by the Drug Enforcement Administration, was fatally shot as she left a butcher’s shop in western Medellin Monday afternoon, according to a report by Univision and El Colombiano. Colombia’s El Espectador reported authorities are looking for Blanco’s killers and are investigating possible motives for the killing.

Blanco served nearly 20 years in an American prison on drug trafficking charges and was at one point tied to as many as 40 murders in the U.S., according to a 1997 Senate testimony given by then-director of DEA international operations Michael Horn. Horn said that Blanco ordered a Florida mall shooting in 1979 that left two dead and four injured, and she apparently enjoyed her line of work.

“To foster her reputation as the ‘Godmother’ of cocaine, [Blanco] named her fourth son Michael Corleone, after the fictional mob character portrayed in the movie The Godfather,” Horn said.

Court documents filed in 1988, three years after Blanco was caught, detail the shadowy, decade-long hunt for the queenpin that involved federal agents chasing false identities and checking Miami hospitals for gunshot wound victims that matched Blanco’s description. But she wasn’t able to elude them forever and after being captured in 1985 in Irvin, Calif. and serving nearly two decades behind bars in America, Blanco was released from prison and deported back to Colombia in 2004.

The DEA referred all inquiries into Blanco’s death to Colombian authorities, telling ABC News, “she served her time here.” The Colombian National Police did not immediately respond to requests for comment for this report.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Large Shipment of Cocaine Delivered to UN

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The NYPD and Drug Enforcement Administration are investigating a peculiar shipment of drugs seized at the United Nations earlier this month.

Mailroom workers at the U.N. discovered packages containing around 16.5 kilos of cocaine on Jan. 16.  Upon their discovery, the nearby police precinct was called, and the drugs and other evidence was seized.  

Sixteen and a half kilos, or just over 35 pounds, of cocaine carries a street value of about $440,000, NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said, according to The Wall Street Journal.  Browne says the packages originated in Mexico.

Officials say the investigation has so far yielded no arrests.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


US Navy Sailor Accused of Trying to Smuggle Cocaine Out of Colombia

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A U.S. Navy sailor has been caught allegedly trying to smuggle about five kilograms of high-grade cocaine out of Colombia, U.S. State Department and Defense Department officials told ABC News.

A spokesman for U.S. Fleet Forces Command identified the enlisted sailor as Gunner’s Mate Lemar Deion Burton, 26. He was based at Navy Munitions Command at Sigonella Naval Air Station in Sicily, Italy.

“This person is not a member of the U.S. official mission in Colombia,” the U.S. embassy in Bogota, Colombia, said in a statement. “We respect the rule of law in Colombia and the Colombian penal system and we believe that that the judicial process should run its course in all cases. Because of privacy concerns, we cannot comment further on this matter.”

Burton was arrested for cocaine possession on Oct. 12 as he tried to leave the country via Bogota’s El Dorado airport. The U.S. embassy was notified almost immediately and American consular officials visited him in La Modelo prison in Bogota on Oct. 13.

“He was on personal leave and not in an official capacity,” U.S. Fleet Forces Command spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Mike Kafka told ABC News.

Local news reported Burton was planning to fly to Paris and then to Rome and had the cocaine concealed in a hidden compartment in his luggage.

Colombia is prosecuting the sailor because he was not on official travel and, therefore, not covered by any immunity protections, the local news reports added. He could face up to five years in prison for drug transport and trafficking.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Mexican Drug Smugglers Tunnel Into Arizona Parking Spaces

Smugglers in Mexico have tunneled their way under metered parking spaces in the border town of Nogales, Arizona. ABC News(NOGALES, Ariz.) -- Drug smugglers are endlessly creative when it comes to inventing ways to move marijuana, cocaine and other contraband from Mexico into the United States.

In the latest innovation uncovered by law enforcement, smugglers in the border town of Nogales, Ariz., were bringing drugs into the U.S. for the cost of a quarter.

The parking meters on International Street, which hugs the border fence in Nogales, cost 25 cents. Smugglers in Mexico tunneled under the fence and under the metered parking spaces, and then carefully cut neat rectangles out of the pavement. Their confederates on the U.S. side would park false-bottomed vehicles in the spaces above the holes, feed the meters, and then wait while the underground smugglers stuffed their cars full of drugs from below.

When the exchange was finished, the smugglers would use jacks to put the pavement "plugs" back into place. The car would drive away, and only those observers who were looking closely would notice the seams in the street.

In all, U.S. Border Patrol agents found 16 tunnels leading to the 18 metered parking spaces on International Street. The pavement is now riddled with neat, symmetrical patches.

"It's unbelievable," Nogales mayor Arturo Garino told Tucson, Ariz., ABC affiliate KGUN. "Those are the strides these people take to get the drugs across the border."

Past methods of smuggling have included catapults that launch bales of drugs across the border fence. "The [smugglers] have tried everything," said Garino, "and this is one of the most ingenious [methods] of them all.

The city, advised by Homeland Security, has agreed to remove the parking meters. Nogales stands to lose $8,500 annually in parking revenue, plus the cost of citations.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


UK Authorities Seize 1.2 Tons of Cocaine

File photo. Joe Raedle/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Authorities in the United Kingdom have seized 1.2 tons of cocaine valued at roughly $500 million off of a yacht, according to published reports.

The drugs were found aboard a 65-foot yacht docked in Southampton in June. The U.K. Border Agency kept the news from the public while it collaborated with Dutch authorities in tracking down gang members.

Six suspects were arrested on Tuesday.

The seizure is the largest in U.K. history.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Narco Sub With 7.5 Tons of Cocaine Caught in Caribbean

(Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Coast Guard caught a narco submarine trying to smuggle $180 million worth of cocaine into the U.S., intercepting the drug vessel as her own crew tried to sink her off the coast of Honduras.

Coast Guard video shows the crew of the semi-submersible craft jumping off the boat and into a yellow life raft. As a Coast Guard boat comes alongside, the submarine can be seen quickly sinking into the Caribbean.

"It was immediately obvious to our boarding crew that the SPSS [self-propelled semi submersible vessel] was taking on water and was being scuttled by its crew," said Cmdr. Charles Fosse, commander of the Coast Guard cutter Seneca. "We recovered two packages and the SPSS sank seconds after that."

An FBI dive team later recovered 7.5 tons of cocaine from the boat. The interdiction was the first in the Western Caribbean; according to the Coast Guard, submarines are regularly used to move contraband in the Eastern Pacific.

According to the Coast Guard, the typical SPSS or narco submarine is less than 100 feet long, carries four to five crew members and up to 10 tons of cocaine. The vessels, which are often built in jungle areas of Colombia controlled by the guerilla group FARC, can travel up to 5,000 miles.

Drug traffickers design the vessels to that they can be sunk rapidly when threatened by law enforcement. The Seneca began searching for the sub when it sank on July 13, and was assisted by several other cutters and the Honduran Navy, but didn't locate its underwater resting place until July 26.

Lt. Cmdr. Peter Niles, commanding officer of the Coast Guard Cutter Oak, the ship that found the sunken sub, said he and his crew were "essentially looking for a needle in a haystack. But we had pretty good equipment to find that."

"And for about the last three days we have been removing the contraband," said Lt. Cmdr. Niles, "and presently we're at over 14,000 pounds of contraband."

Said Nies, "This is a once in a lifetime -- once in a career -- thing that happens. I've been here for 27 years and I've never been involved in a drug case like this."

The sub had been spotted on July 13 by a fixed wing aircraft, which then alerted the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The crew of a CBP patrol plane found the ship and then alerted the Seneca. The Seneca dispatched a smaller rescue boat and a helicopter to intercept the sub. The Coast Guard took the sub crew into custody after the interception, and then handed them off to authorities on shore. The case is under investigation, according to the Coast Guard.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


$33.4 Million Worth of Cocaine Seized En Route to China

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(HONG KONG) – Customs officials in Hong Kong uncovered $33.4 million worth of cocaine concealed in hollowed-out planks that originated in Bolivia and were en route to China, reports the BBC.

The 639-pound seizure was the second-largest drug bust in the region and was part of a “sophisticated” drug smuggling operation, according to customs officials in Hong Kong.

The bust has raised concerns that recreational drug use is on the rise in China due to growing wealth in the country. The country’s largest bust happened just last year, when 820 pounds of cocaine were discovered in a village in April.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio