Man sentenced in 20-ton cocaine smuggling scheme

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SEATTLE (AP) -- A man convicted of conspiring to smuggle 20 tons of cocaine into the United States has been sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Hector Fabio Zapata Alavares of Colombia is the third and final defendant sentenced in the case in federal court in Seattle. The 31-year-old worked with a crime ring that had a contract to smuggle massive quantities of cocaine produced by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia, or FARC.

An undercover Drug Enforcement Administration agent posed as a Seattle shipping executive who offered to smuggle the cocaine in a vessel's ballast tanks. The agent received a down payment of nearly $500,000 in 2007.

The other two defendants received sentences of 34 and 28 years.

Seattle U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan called the scope of the conspiracy staggering. The cocaine was worth an estimated $600 million.