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HomeNewsPolice & CourtsNicaraguan Man Sentenced In Cocaine Trafficking Case

Nicaraguan Man Sentenced In Cocaine Trafficking Case

A Nicaraguan national, Michael Nelson-Gaet, 36, was sentenced by Judge Wilma A. Lewis on federal drug charges relating to the seizure of bulk cocaine off the coast of Colombia. Lewis sentenced Nelson-Gaet to 57 months in prison, followed by two years of supervised release and a $100 special assessment, U.S. Attorney Delia L. Smith announced Thursday.

According to court documents, on March 5, 2022, while patrolling in international waters, the United States Coast Guard Cutter Legare intercepted go-fast vessel “La Bendecida Leo” 140 nautical miles southwest of Isla de Malpelo, Columbia. The vessel was traveling at a high rate of speed with bales and fuel barrels observed on deck. Nelson-Gaet, Jorge Gutierrez-Picado and Roy McElroy-Carlos were observed onboard the vessel throwing bales of suspected narcotics overboard.

The documents stated the vessel had no registration and the occupants claimed Nicaraguan nationality for the vessel. Nicaragua could neither confirm nor deny nationality of the vessel to the Coast Guard thereby subjecting the vessel to the jurisdiction of the United States. A search of the La Bendecida Leo, including the bales recovered from the ocean, resulted in the seizure of approximately 550 kilograms of cocaine and 136 pounds of marijuana.

Court documents stated for his role, Gutierrez-Picado was sentenced to 70 months incarceration and two years of supervised release, and McElroy-Carlos awaits trial in his case.

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