“Prince of Semi-Submersibles” gets 20 years for operating “narco subs”

FAN Editor

A Colombian man dubbed the “Prince of Semi-Submersibles” has been sentenced to over 20 years in federal prison for smuggling nearly 30,000 pounds of cocaine into the U.S., prosecutors said on Monday. Oscar Adriano Quintero Rengifo, 35, is accused of operating a fleet of so-called “narco subs” to transport drugs from South America to Central America that were ultimately destined for the United States.

Quintero Rengifo — who also goes by the name Gautala —  was arrested in Colombia on January 29, 2021, and extradited to the United States one year later, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Middle District of Florida, said in a statement. He pleaded guilty on May 20, 2022.

U.S. District Judge Charlene Edwards Honeywell sentenced Quintero Rengifo to 20 years and 10 months in federal prison. According to the plea agreement, Quintero Rengifo was part of a transnational criminal organization that “primarily sent vessels such as self-propelled semi-submersible vessels to Guatemala, where the cocaine was then smuggled over the Guatemala/Mexican border and then into the United States.”

A former mayor in Guatemala, who controlled drug routes in the northern part of the country, oversaw the smuggling of cocaine to Mexican cartel members, prosecutors said. Quintero Rengifo rose through the ranks of the group, from organizing operations to ultimately investing in shipments and finding investors, prosecutors said. He earned the moniker “Prince of Semi-Submersibles” in the Colombian media.

From 2015 through 2019, the U.S. Coast Guard intercepted at least four ships, including two “narco subs,” directly linked to Quintero Rengifo organization, involving more than 13,000 kilograms of cocaine, prosecutors allege.

“Narco subs” are commonly used by traffickers in Central and South America to transport drugs. The vessels move very low in the water to escape detection but rarely are able to fully submerge.

In March, officials seized a “narco sub” carrying two dead bodies and a huge haul of drugs in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Colombia. About a week later, a semi-submersible vessel carrying nearly 1,000 packages of cocaine was intercepted in the same region. 

A submarine with two dead bodies and nearly three tons of cocaine aboard was seized in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Colombia, officials said. Colombia Navy

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