(MIAMI) — A Navy SEAL who worked in Central and South America has pleaded guilty to conspiring to smuggle drugs into the U.S. after he was nabbed with bricks of cocaine in Miami.
Angel Martinez-Ramos, who served in the Reserve after leaving active duty in 2010, was caught in December when he and his wife tried to slip into the U.S. with 10 kilograms of cocaine, according to court documents.
Martinez-Ramos apparently didn’t know that Drug Enforcement Administration agents in Colombia had already alerted their counterparts in the U.S. that a shipment of drugs was coming through, possibly with the help of a member of the U.S. military, and that Martinez-Ramos had already been identified as a suspect.
Martinez-Ramos and his wife, Bibiana Marcela Lopez-Correa, were detained by customs agents upon arriving in Miami, but there were no drugs on them, a criminal complaint said. Instead, authorities found a black “Totto” carry-on suitcase had been left on the plane. Upon being questioned, Lopez-Correa later admitted the luggage belonged to her husband.
The bag was filled with 10 “brick shaped objects,” wrapped in yellow tape and hidden underneath a sweater and a pair of boots, the complaint said. The bricks turned out to be approximately 10 kilograms of cocaine.
The SEAL’s arrest and plea was first reported Friday by Buzzfeed.
Martinez-Ramos was originally charged with three offenses — conspiracy to import a controlled substance, importing a controlled substance and intent to distribute a controlled substance. In a plea agreement signed in mid-March, Martinez-Ramos pleaded guilty to the first count and prosecutors agreed to drop the other charges.
Service records provided by the Navy to ABC News show Martinez-Ramos joined the Navy in 1999 and served five years before going through SEAL training starting in late 2004. In 2010, he left active duty for the Reserves, but court documents say that in that capacity he “frequently travels on orders and on official business to Central and South America.”
Martinez-Ramos is scheduled to be sentenced later this month. Lopez-Correa pleaded guilty and has already been sentenced to 70 months in prison, court documents show.
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