Two Colombian drug traffickers will face charges in the U.S. after shipping over 17 pounds of heroin and cocaine to Manhattan aboard a storied Spanish Navy sailboat, authorities announced Monday.
Jorge Luis Hoayeck and Jorge Alberto Siado-Alvarez face a life sentence for the alleged scheme using the Royal Spanish Navy training vessel, the Juan Sebastian de Elcano, to smuggle drugs.
The two men from Cartegena were caught on a wiretap by Colombian authorities in 2014 plotting to pay two cadets a total of $32,000 to smuggle the drugs aboard the ship that serves as a symbolic “floating embassy,” the city’s Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor said.
The four-masted schooner was on a six-month voyage that originated in Cadiz, Spain and included stops in France, Italy and Morocco, before crossing the Atlantic Ocean for stops in Cartagena, the Dominican Republic and New York City.
On May 14, 2014 DEA agents, NYPD detectives and State Police investigators tracked two Spaniards delivering four kilos of cocaine and four kilos of heroin from the ship, which was docked near the U.S.S. Intrepid, to a Bronx residence, authorities said.
Investigators then tracked traffickers as they hauled the drugs to Hartford, Conn.
Seven people associated with a New York City-based trafficking group that intended to distribute the drugs have been arrested and indicted, authorities said.
The Juan Sebastian de Elcano was allowed to travel to Ireland, Norway and Germany before returning to its home port in Cadiz, Spain. The Spanish Coast Guard then searched the ship and recovered 127 kilos — nearly 280 pounds — of cocaine in a storeroom for reserve sails, authorities said.
The larger seizure is the subject of an ongoing investigation that has already resulted in the indictment of six sailors and one cook by Spanish authorities.
Hoayeck and Siado-Alvarez have not been charged with that larger haul of drugs.
Hoayeck will be arraigned Monday morning in Manhattan Criminal Court. Siado-Alvarez is expected to be extradited to Manhattan soon, authorities said. Their attorneys could not be immediately reached.