Leader of international cocaine trafficking network sentenced in Va.

WASHINGTON — A United States District Court sentenced the leader of a large-scale international cocaine trafficking network to 25 years in prison on Wednesday.

The Eastern District of Virginia sentenced Mexican national Edgar A. Quinonez-Salazar, 40, for his role in a Guatemalan drug trafficking organization that operated in Central America.

This sentence comes as part of a coordinated law enforcement investigation code-named Operation Go Explorers.

According to court documents, Quinonez served as a high-level leader within the trafficking network, organizing cocaine transportation networks, coordinating the sale and purchase of cocaine and serving as a close adviser to the network’s kingpin.

In May 2016, Quinonez directed the use of violence against fellow traffickers in an effort to locate 1,100 pounds of cocaine that was suspected to be stolen from his network off the Pacific coast of Guatemala.

In total, Quinonez orchestrated the transportation of 7,361 pounds of cocaine from Costa Rica to the Guatemalan-Mexican border.

In September 2016, Guatemalan law enforcement seized the semi-submersible vessel that Quinonez and his network were constructing to transport cocaine. Quinonez was extradited to the United States in September 2017.

Senior U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson handed down the sentence.

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