Individuals Pled Guilty For Participation
In American Airlines Drug Trafficking
Conspiracy In DEA Led Ocdetf Operation
MAY 10 -- (SAN JUAN, PR) – Twenty-two (22) individuals pled guilty for their participation in a conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute in excess of 9,000 kilograms of cocaine, aboard American Airlines commercial aircrafts, announced today United States Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez. These individuals were indicted on September 9, 2009, by a Federal Grand Jury and arrested on September 15, as a result of Operation Heavy Cargo, an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation led by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
Nine individuals were American Airlines employees. The leader of the organization, Wilfredo Rodríguez-Rosado, aka “Mogoyo,” along with seven defendants, entered guilty pleas on Friday, May 7. This drug trafficking organization began operating in or about 1999 and continued until September 15, 2009, the day of the arrests. Rodríguez Rosado, a part time employee, recruited and organized a group of American Airlines employees to ensure that suitcases loaded with kilograms of cocaine were smuggled into American Airlines aircrafts and transported to different cities in the Continental United States. The defendants are facing sentences of up to 15 years in prison.
“After a careful evaluation of the evidence gathered by law enforcement in this case, defendants opted not to stand trial, which was scheduled to start today. I commend the dedication of the prosecutors and investigative agencies involved in this case and their efforts to fight drug trafficking organizations such as this one,” stated U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodriguez-Velez.
"Today's guilty pleas are an example of DEA's success in aggressively pursuing those criminal organizations which exploit vulnerabilities in our airports and recruit airline and other air transportation industry employees to facilitate their drug trafficking activities. With these convictions DEA closes another route for thousands of kilograms of cocaine to reach the United States or any other part of the world from Puerto Rico," said DEA Special Agent in Charge Javier F. Peña. "With the cooperation of the airline industry, the Puerto Rico Ports Authority and our law enforcement counterparts DEA will keep drug traffickers away from our airports. By denying the drug traffickers alternate smuggling routes, we disrupt the flow of drugs into Puerto Rico and discourage the use of the island as a transshipment point in the Caribbean."
The case was investigated by a Drug Enforcement Administration led OCDETF, and prosecuted by First Assistant United States Attorney María Dominguez and Special Assistant United States Attorney Rosaida Meléndez.