Stateless Semi-Submersible (Submarine) Vessel with 4,400 Pounds of Cocaine. Discussing my own case!

Jose Rosario Segura Balentierra, a Colombian national interdicted by the United States Coast Guard on a semi-submersible vessel containing approximately 2,000 kilograms (4,4000 pounds) of cocaine was represented by Anton Vialtsin in the Southern District of California. On July 14, 2021, Balentierra pleaded guilty to Possession of Cocaine with Intent to Distribute on Board a Vessel in violation of 46 U.S.C. § 70503 and Operation of a Semi-Submersible Vessel without Nationality in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2285. You can read more about the case on the United States Attorney’s Office website:

In this video, I will discuss just one aspect of a very large and lengthy case, namely operating a semi-submersible vessel at high seas without flying a flag. How is it that the United States Coast Guard interdicted this boat? How does the Southern District of California have jurisdiction over this case?

In summary, with regards to the ancient medieval and modem history on the requirement of using flags, there is nothing to indicate in the research that flags were actually required, although they were necessary for certain signaling and other reasons as indicated above. However, a flag on a vessel represents the sovereignty of the nation and so the vessel itself is deemed, in a metaphorical way, as the territory of the sovereign.

Under international law, stateless vessels can be subject to stop and
inspection if there is suspicion of illegal activity. This is important to note
because if the vessel is stateless (without a flag or nationality), the country stopping the vessel can assert jurisdiction over the ship and persons aboard, without having to show a nexus or connection. Stateless vessels have always been considered “‘international pariahs’ and have no rights to navigate freely on the high seas, … which means they may be subjected to the jurisdiction of any state.” That is, a vessel can be stopped, either for not identifying itself properly by flying a flag or possibly having a large enough emblem of a flag on the side of the ship, as occurred in United States v. Prado.

You can read more in this wonderful article: Under International Law, Must a Ship on the High Seas Fly the Flag of a State in Order to A void Being a Stateless Vessel? Is a Flag Painted on Either Side of the Ship Sufficient to Identify it?

Found here:

News Article: Colombian sentenced — for second time — in drug-trafficking exploit on the high seas,

Anton Vialtsin, Esq.
LAWSTACHE™ LAW FIRM | Criminal Defense and Business Law
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