Four Men Arrested After $8 Million in Cocaine Found in Punching Bags
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Four men were arrested for allegedly trying to smuggle $8 million worth of cocaine into the United States by hiding it in punching bags aboard a ship that sailed from Colombia, a federal official said Saturday. Customs officials discovered the 177 pounds of cocaine on March 7 when the 600-foot commercial vessel Adrienne arrived in San Francisco, said federal Drug Enforcement Administration spokesman Ralph Lockridge. The ship, registered in Greece, had set sail from Cartagena, Colombia.
The identity of the ship’s owner was not immediately known, and police had no evidence the crew knew of the cocaine, Lockridge said, so authorities replaced the drug with flour and allowed the vessel to sail to Los Angeles.
There, authorities arrested Hector Julian Ramirez, 20, of Miami on Friday. Lockridge said Ramirez had sophisticated diving gear that was to be used in removing the cocaine from the ship’s hull.
On Saturday, officers arrested Ivan Ochoa, 38, of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; Luis Fernando Ochoa, 30, of Hollywood, Fla.; and Julia Zambrano-Martinez, 54, of Bogota, Colombia.
The four were jailed for investigation of drug trafficking. Authorities could not immediately say if bail amounts had been set or an arraignment date had been scheduled.