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This Miami Herald article demonstrates that US Customs was aware that their South

Florida radar installation, detailed in another articlle and available on this website,
placed our ships squarely in between the Medellin and Cali Cartel and their billion-
dollar drug market in America.

Key phrases in this article:

“Agents on the lookout for cocaine shipments on commercial


vessels”

“Customs agents have been watching for cocaine shipments


on commercial vessels for the past month, O'Brien said.
Agents reasoned that recent Coast Guard and Customs
successes in seizing smugglers' boats coming in from
Colombia and the Bahamas would force smugglers to turn to
commercial vessels, he said.

"We put a real effort into freighters and their cargos," he


said.

Miami Herald, The (FL)


October 18, 1986
Section: LOCAL
Edition: FINAL
Page: 2B

CREW HELD ON DRUG CHARGES


Herald Staff

The captain and six crew members of a Panamanian freighter lost their ship and cargo
early Friday morning when U.S. Customs agents stopped a truck carrying cocaine from
the ship.

Agents on the lookout for cocaine shipments on commercial vessels had information that
the freighter Siroco, which arrived Thursday in Miami from Colombia, was carrying a
drug load, said Special Agent in Charge Pat O'Brien. They kept the ship under
surveillance as it lay docked at the Port of Miami through the night and watched six crew
members unload duffle bags onto a truck that arrived 7 a.m. Friday, O'Brien said.

They stopped the truck as it was leaving Dodge Island and discovered 303 pounds of
cocaine, O'Brien said. Agents arrested two men in the truck and the six crew members.
"We didn't know if it was cocaine or not, we didn't believe they would do it so blatantly,"
O'Brien said. "But they do it so blatantly so that nobody thinks it's anything."

The captain was arrested based on evidence implicating him, O'Brien said. He refused to
say what the evidence was.

The 120-foot vessel, which is registered in Panama, was taken into custody, O'Brien said.
Whether Customs gets to keep it or not will depend on who owns it, he said.

Customs agents have been watching for cocaine shipments on commercial vessels for the
past month, O'Brien said. Agents reasoned that recent Coast Guard and Customs
successes in seizing smugglers' boats coming in from Colombia and the Bahamas would
force smugglers to turn to commercial vessels, he said.

"We put a real effort into freighters and their cargos," he said.

The seizure, which has a street value of $4.9 million, is a "medium" size one by South
Florida standards, said Clif Stallings, Customs spokesman. In August, for example, Coral
Gables police seized 664 pounds of cocaine at a private home.

The nine men were held on drug charges, Stallings said. They include Jose M. Palpa, 40,
the ship's captain; and crew members Jaime Rodriguez, 34; Henry Valasco, 41; Carlos
Carmano, 38; Jose Perez, 37; Julio Estupinan, 33; and Juan Jiminez, whose age was
unavailable Friday afternoon. All were Colombians, except for Valasco, who is from
Ecuador, and Perez, who is from Spain, O'Brien said.

Also arrested were Miami residents Jorge Sarmiento, 29, and Luis Morrero, 33, who were
aboard the truck.

Illustration:photo: agent Pat O'Brien displays 303 pounds of COCAINE

Copyright (c) 1986 The Miami Herald

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