News and Press Releases

Arizona man sentenced to 235 months in prison for flying millions of dollars in heroin and cocaine into new jersey by private plane

September 19, 2011


NEWARK, N.J. – Lorenzo Alvarez was sentenced today to 235 months in prison for flying a private airplane into New Jersey’s Essex County airport loaded with 24 kilograms of heroin and 48 kilograms of cocaine he planned to distribute, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

According to the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), this was the largest general aviation heroin seizure ever made by HSI within the United States.

Lorenzo Alvarez, 43, of Yuma, Ariz., previously pleaded guilty to counts two and three of a superseding Indictment filed against him, which charged Alvarez with knowingly and intentionally distributing and possessing with intent to distribute heroin and cocaine, respectively. Alvarez entered his guilty plea before U.S. District Judge Dickinson R. Debevoise, who also imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

On November 21, 2008, HSI received information that a private plane would be arriving at Essex County Airport from Yuma loaded with narcotics. Special agents observed Alvarez pilot and land a private plane at the Essex County airport. Alvarez took three suitcases and two smaller bags from the airplane and put them in a rental car he had obtained and driven back to the plane. Soon after, Alvarez drove the car off the airport grounds.

Working in conjunction with HSI special agents, an officer of the Fairfield Police Department pulled over the rental car. Alvarez provided written consent to search the vehicle. While in the back seat of a patrol car, Alvarez attempted to hide a key to the suitcases. The officers transported Alvarez to the Fairfield Police Department.

The suitcases were found to contain approximately 24 kilograms (net weight) of heroin, and 48 kilograms (net weight) of cocaine. Law enforcement also recovered a narcotics ledger which contained Alvarez’s handwriting from within the airplane. The seized narcotics were worth millions of dollars.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Debevoise also sentenced Alvarez to five years of supervised release.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of HSI in New Jersey under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Andrew M. McLees and in Arizona under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Matt Allen; as well as police officers of the Fairfield Police Department under the direction of Chief Charles G. Voelker Jr. He also thanked U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Air and Marine for its assistance with all aviation matters.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Carey, Chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Narcotics/Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Unit in Newark.


Defense counsel: Olubocula O. Adetula Esq., Irvington, N.J.

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