Accused cocaine smuggler to stand trial

By Theresa Schmidt - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - It started as a rescue of two freezing illegal immigrants and ended in what appears to be the biggest cocaine bust in Calcasieu Parish history.  It happened last February when Sheriff Tony Mancuso said two men who had been stowaways on a ship called for help from an unknown island between Citgo Clifton Ridge and Graywood Golf Course.

Now one of those men, Carlos Hurtado Valois, is about to stand trial in U.S. District Court for charges of importing a controlled, dangerous substance; drug possession and improper entry into the United States.

The man Valois was arrested with, Felipe Gonzales, will reportedly testify against him during the trial.

Back in February deputies said that after discovering one of the men had been previously deported three times for smuggling drugs, deputies returned to the island to search it. After following a trail of footprints they eventually discovered eight duffel bags containing many packages of what appeared to be cocaine wrapped in balloons.

In all they found 176 kilos of cocaine-- that's nearly four hundred pounds-- with an estimated street value of six million dollars.  At that time Sheriff Tony Mancuso said, "What we believe happened is they were stowaways on one of these ships that was coming in, jumped off the ship, got to one of these islands with their stash, basically got cold because of the weather conditions, ended up calling for help. They had the smarts enough I guess to hide the dope from where they were actually sitting. I applaud the deputies that actually got the information, passed the information."

Then  the drugs were then turned over to ICE: The Immigration Customs Enforcement.

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