Historic Spanish Ship Used To Smuggle Drugs To NYC, Prosecutors Say
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A Colombian man accused of using a historic ship owned by the Royal Spanish Navy to smuggle cocaine and other drugs into the United States has been extradited to New York City to face drug trafficking charges, prosecutors say.
Jorge Luis Hoayeck was arrested alongside alleged co-conspirator Jorge Alberto Siado-Alvarez in Columbia in January, following an investigation by a team of law enforcement groups from Columbia and the United States, according to officials.
Officials say extradition for Siado-Alvarez is pending based on approval from the Colombian government, but is expected some time in the future.
Hoayeck and Siado-Alvarez are accused of masterminding a plan to pay two midshipmen $32,000 to smuggle eight kilograms of narcotics (four kilograms of cocaine and four kilograms of heroin) aboard the Juan Sebastian de Elcano between April and May 2014, officials said.
The ship was on a six-month journey from Spain during the time, making stops in France, Italy, Morocco, Columbia and the Dominican Republic before stopping in New York City.
According to officials, the drugs were smuggled on to the ship when the boat was docked in Cartagena, Columbia in April 2014. The midshipmen allegedly met local drug traffickers upon the ship's arrival to New York City in May 2014, and helped transport the drugs to two separate locations in the Bronx.
DEA agents and the NYPD arrested six people in Hartford and New York City as the drugs were being transported through Connecticut, officials said. A seventh individual allegedly connected to the case was arrested in the Dominican Republic shortly after.
Authorities with the Spanish Civil Guard found 127 kilograms of cocaine in a storeroom following a raid of the vessel after it returned to Spain. According to officials, Spanish authorities have identified seven people in connection to the scheme.
The Juan Sebastian de Elcano, originally built in 1927, is a 371-foot schooner and is considered to be one of the tallest ships in the world.
Hoayeck and Siado-Alvarez are charged with operating as a major trafficker, which could carry a life sentence under New York State law. They're also charged with criminal sale of a controlled substance in the first degree, criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first degree and two counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree.
Hoyaeck was brought to the United States on Nov. 10 and is expected to face a judge on Monday.
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