Coke-filled Sub Busted off Honduran Coast

Almost seven tons of coke were brought to Florida last week.

They were seized in a submarine caught by the Coast Guard after being spotted off the coast of Gracias a Dios.

According to a story on bbc.com, a C-130 fixed-wing aircraft first spotted the self-propelled semi-submersible close to the water’s surface on July 13.

A Coast Guard cutter was called to intercept the vessel, after US Customs and Border Protection crews also noticed it.

The sub-smugglers jumped into life rafts after pulling a valve inside the craft to sink it with the narcotics on board, Coast Guard Lt Patrick Montgomery told the BBC.

“This is the biggest blow to drug trafficking” in the country’s history, armed forces General Rene Osorio told reporters.

Honduran authorities and the U.S. Coast Guard had discovered 2.8 tons of cocaine through Thursday in initial searches of the wreckage, located at a depth of 36 meters (118 feet) off the country’s eastern coast, Osorio said, adding that another 4.5 tons were found on Friday.

Coast Guard crews took the vessel’s five crew members into custody and were able to retrieve a small portion of the cocaine before the vessel sank.

Osorio said Washington has asked that the seized drugs and the four crew members of the semi-submersible craft arrested two weeks ago – a Honduran and three Colombians, all unindentified – be turned over to them for prosecution in the United States.

But Osorio said his country’s Foreign Ministry will request that the Honduran be tried in his homeland.

“The Coast Guard is always on the lookout for anything that looks suspicious in the water, and that definitely includes 15,000 pounds of drugs,”  Montgomery said.

These semi-submersibles — usually built in Colombian jungles and sent through Pacific waters — occasionally get nabbed. This is the first one caught near Roatan.

Miami Telecom Chief Pleads Guilty of Bribing Hondutel Officials

Jorge Granados Enters Guilty Plea, Faces Five Years and $250,000 Fine

BY JEFF STRATTON

According to an FBI press release and US court documents, a Miami firm called LatiNode offered bribes to Honduran government officials connected with Hondutel. As much as $500,000 was given to at least three Honduran officials. Granados was the founder and CEO of LatiNode.

Another defendant, Manuel Caceres, is a Honduran citizen living legally in Miami and working for LatiNode. After winning an exclusive contract with Hondutel in 2005, LatiNode learned it would have to substantially lower its rates or risk losing the contract. Not long afterward, according to the indictment, a LatiNode memo sent to Caceres said doing business with Hondutel would be difficult “because we know they expect something under the table.”

So the two decided to bribe Honduran officials, including a senior Hondutel executive, a Hondutel attorney, and a government minister. Those officials told LatiNode where to start depositing the bribe money. By 2006, cash started flowing from Miami banks to Central American bank accounts. The deposits continued through 2007, when Granados ordered LatiNode’s IT dude to remove any reference to Hondutel from the company’s e-mail servers.

Granados was arrested in 2010, and as part of his recent plea agreement, faces between 135-168 months in prison.

Caceres is looking at 87-108 months’ imprisonment.