News and Press Releases


April 14, 2011

A Canadian citizen, Robert D’Leone, age 36, entered a guilty plea today before United States District Court Judge John Corbett O’Meara. The plea came on the third day of a jury trial being conducted in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The plea was announced by United States Attorney Barbara McQuade. Ms. McQuade was joined in the announcement by Robert L. Corso, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration, Detroit Field Division.

Mr. D’Leone, who had been living in New York City until his arrest on these charges in August of 2010, was implicated as a result of an investigation into a drug smuggling organization operating out of the Toronto, Ontario, Canada area that used small private airplanes to move large amounts of drugs and money between Canada and the United States.

On November 6, 2009, the investigation resulted in the aerial surveillance of a single-engine Cessna that entered the United States from Canada, flying at about 500 feet with no lights, shortly before midnight. The airplane landed at a small airport near Sandusky, Michigan, where 80 pounds of marijuana and 400,000 dosage units of BZP (pills that are sold as MDMA/ecstasy) were unloaded. The Drug Enforcement Administration, assisted by the Department of Homeland Security/Customs and Border Protection Great Lakes Air and Marine and the Sanilac County Sheriff’s Department, seized the marijuana, the BZP and arrested two couriers who attempted to receive the drugs. At least 20 kilograms of cocaine were placed on the airplane, which escaped back to Canada.

Mr. D’Leone pled guilty today to the offense of possession with intent to distribute cocaine, admitting in his guilty plea that at approximately 7:00 p.m. on November 6, 2009, he met with one of the couriers in a parking lot near Hartland, Michigan. Mr. D’Leone admitted to providing the courier with three kilograms of cocaine. According to trial testimony, the courier added that cocaine to other cocaine he had already collected, and proceeded to the Sandusky airport, where the entire cocaine shipment was loaded on the airplane and exported to Canada.

There is no agreement or limitation on the sentence that may be imposed by the judge at sentencing, except the forty year maximum provided under the statute. The conviction also carries a minimum term imprisonment of five years, a minimum term of supervised release of 4 years and a maximum fine of $2 million. Under the law, the exact term of imprisonment to be imposed by the judge must take into consideration the sentencing guidelines, which consider the circumstances of the offense and the prior criminal record, if any, of the defendant.

A sentencing hearing was set by Judge O’Meara for July 12, 2011, at 2:15 p.m.. The detention of the defendant was continued.

The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, with assistance from the Department of Homeland Security/Customs and Border Protection Great Lakes Air and Marine, and Canadian law enforcement, including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Toronto Police Service, York Regional Police Service, Peel Regional Police Service, Durham Regional Police Service, Halton Regional Police Service, Ontario Provincial Police, and Canada Border Services Agency. United States Attorney McQuade commended the Sanilac County Sheriff’s Department, which provided vital assistance on November 6-7, 2009, in locating and arresting the two couriers who fled from the Sandusky Airport after meeting the airplane. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Wayne F. Pratt.


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