Venezuelan man found guilty on drug smuggling charges

By Theresa Schmidt - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - A Venezuelan man accused of helping to import 176 bricks of cocaine into Calcasieu Parish was found guilty on all counts by a jury on Tuesday afternoon.

The verdict was returned by the jury after only 34 minutes of deliberation.

During the closing arguments on Tuesday afternoon, the defense told jurors Carl Hurtado did not know there was cocaine in the duffle bags that went with him and another man onto a ship where they were stowaways. The ship came from Venezuela to the Port of Lake Charles and the men finally wound up on an island along with the drugs.

On rebuttal, the prosecutor told jurors it is ridiculous to suggest Hurtado did not know what was in the bags. The defense says Hurtado came to America to help with his brother who is paralyzed from a gunshot wound. The prosecutor admits Hurtado may have come here in part because of his injured brother. He says maybe that's why Carlos Hurtado became a drug dealer.

Hurtado's co-defendant Felipe Gonzalez reached a plea deal with the government and testified against Hurtado.

The alleged smugglers called 911 for a rescue back in February after they found themselves stuck on an island where they were literally freezing to death.  

After rescuing the two, deputies returned to the island and searched it where they found 400 pounds of cocaine that had an estimated wholesale value of almost $5 million.

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