U.S. sailor allegedly smuggled cocaine

Oct. 20, 2011 at 10:48 AM   |   Comments

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BOGOTA, Oct. 20 (UPI) -- U.S. Defense Department officials say a U.S. Navy sailor was caught allegedly trying to smuggle 5 kilograms of cocaine out of Colombia.

A U.S. Fleet Forces Command spokesman identified the sailor as Lemar Deion Burton, 26, and said he was based at Navy Munitions Command at Sigonella Naval Air Station in Sicily, ABC News reported Wednesday.

"This person is not a member of the U.S. official mission in Colombia," the U.S. Embassy in Bogota said in a statement. "We respect the rule of law in Colombia and the Colombian penal system and we believe that that the judicial process should run its course in all cases.  Because of privacy concerns, we cannot comment further on this matter."

Burton was arrested Oct. 12 as he allegedly attempted to leave Colombia with 5 kilograms of high-grade cocaine.

"He was on personal leave and not in an official capacity," U.S. Fleet Forces Command spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Mike Kafka.

Colombia will be prosecuting the sailor because he was not there on official travel, and, therefore, not covered by immunity protections, officials said.

Burton was allegedly planning on flying to Paris then to Rome with the cocaine hidden in his luggage.

Burton, who faces drug trafficking and transport charges, could receive up to 5 years in prison if convicted.

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