News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 5, 2008

Three Individuals Charged with Trafficking 70 Kilograms of Cocaine at Nashville Airport

FEB 5 -- Nashville, TN – February 1, 2008 - Edward M. Yarbrough, United States Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee, Harry S. Sommers, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Nashville District Office, Chief Ronal Serpas of the Metro Nashville Police Department, and Steve Heim, Chief of Public Safety (airport), announced the seizure of 70 kilograms of cocaine and the indictment of three individuals on narcotics charges by a federal grand jury in Nashville, Tennessee.

On the night of Tuesday, January 29, 2008, the Air Marine Operations Center (AMOC) in Riverside, California, notified agents at the Nashville Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) that a Cessna aircraft with suspicious air patterns was approaching Tennessee.

In the early morning hours of Wednesday, January 30, during a storm, the Cessna aircraft landed at the Nashville airport. The Nashville Airport Police and the Metro Nashville Police Department inspected the plane using a trained drug dog. The drug dog alerted to the presence of narcotics in the plane. Officers then obtained search warrants for three large, heavy suitcases located in the plane. They found 70 kilograms of cocaine in the suitcases. This is the second largest seizure of cocaine in Nashville history.

Yesterday, a federal grand jury in Nashville, Tennessee, charged the pilots and passengers of the planeJose M. Clariot, Franklin Guzman, and Oscar Toledowith conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute over 5 kilograms of cocaine, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 846, and possession with intent to distribute more than 5 kilograms of cocaine, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 841(a)(1). The indictment also sought forfeiture of the Cessna airplane.

The defendants are scheduled for a detention hearing before Magistrate Judge Juliet Griffin on Monday, February 4, 2008.

The Drug Enforcement Administration, Nashville District Office, the Nashville Airport Police, the West Crime Suppression Unit of the Metro Nashville Police Department, the 20th Judicial District Task Force of Davidson County, and the Air Marine Operations Center in Riverside, California investigated the case.

According to United States Attorney Edward M. Yarbrough, “We thank all law enforcement officers involved in this case for their hard work and congratulate them on seizing such a large amount of cocaine. Their quick and coordinated efforts are truly commendable.”

Assistant United States Attorney and Chief of Narcotics David Rivera and Assistant United States Attorney Heather Childs are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.

The public is reminded that an indictment is merely an allegation and is not evidence of guilt. Each defendant is presumed not guilty and is entitled to a jury trial at which the Government would bear the burden of proving each charge beyond a reasonable doubt.

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