Jurors in drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s trial Thursday watched footage of the first-ever US Coast Guard interception of a cocaine-packed submarine.
Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Todd Bagetis, who took part in the September 2008 seizure, said his crew had been patrolling international waters when they came across the semi-submersible, some 350 miles east of Guatemala.
Using night-vision goggles, his team boarded the submarine — where an irate crew immediately tried to sink the boat and toss off the lawmen.
“They put the vessel in [reverse] and tried to throw my crew off. My crew were hanging onto the exhaust pipe for dear life,” Bagetis said.
The dark footage shows a single head popping up from the hatch, and then water flooding the vessel. Bagetis had earlier testified that the boats were designed to sink in as little as three to five minutes if desired.
Once they’d detained the crew, Bagetis said his team discovered 237 bales of cocaine — about 13,000 pounds.
But unfortunately for Bagetis, the packaging on one of the bales of cocaine tore, and he came into contact with the drugs as he helped unload the submarine.
“A couple of the bales were ripped,” he said, “so we were exposed either through the molecules in the air or through skin contact.”
The lieutenant commander added he’d also “bulged some disks” in his back during the operation, and still receives injections every four months to deal with the injury.
Guzman is facing federal charges for importing and distributing cocaine, operating a continuing criminal enterprise, murder conspiracy and firearms possession.
Earlier in the week, Colombian cocaine kingpin Juan Carlos “Chupeta” Ramirez testified that he’d invented this kind of semi-submersible to more discreetly transport his cocaine into Mexico and the US
Once the drugs arrived in Mexico, Guzman’s Sinaloa Cartel allegedly hid the coke in oil tankers, shoeboxes and even cans of pickled jalapeno peppers to try and sneak them into the United States.
Guzman faces life behind bars if convicted.
Source: Read Full Article