Tampa, Fla. – U.S. District Judge Mary S. Scriven sentenced Omar Olmedo Paredes (55, Cocal Payan, Colombia) to 17 years and 6 months in federal prison for conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine on board a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. Olmedo Paredes pleaded guilty on March 31, 2022.

According to court documents, on June 17, 2015 and March 5, 2016, the United States Coast Guard (USCG) interdicted vessels in international waters. Each vessel was carrying over 500 kilograms of cocaine and the USCG seized over 1,100 kilograms of cocaine from the two vessels. Crew members of both ships said Olmedo Paredes was one of the people in charge of dispatching the ships from a small cove in Cocal Payan, Colombia. Olmedo Paredes hired sailors, connected crew members with other co-conspirators in Colombia, had sailors stay at his house while waiting for the ships to be launched, supplied engines for the ships, issued orders and solved the problems that arose. Olmedo Paredes and another person brought the cocaine balls to the launch site and counted them or asked the sailors to count them. Before dispatching the drug-laden ships, Olmedo Paredes provided a captain with instructions and coordinates and dispatched surveillance vessels. The conspirators wanted the cocaine to be distributed in the United States.

A federal grand jury indicted Olmedo Paredes in 2018, and he was arrested in Colombia in 2019. In 2021, Olmedo Paredes was extradited to the United States to face prosecution in the case.

This case was investigated by the Panama Express Strike Force, an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OECDTF) comprised of agents and analysts from the Investigation Service of the US Coast Guard, Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations, Naval Criminal Investigative Service and US Southern Command Joint Interagency Task Force South. The OECDTF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OECDTF program is available at www.justice.gov/OECDTF. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michael C. Sinacore.