Guatemalan Drug Trafficker Pleads Guilty to Using U.S. Registered Aircraft to Transport Thousands of Kilograms of Cocaine
RICHMOND, Va. – Fernando Josue Chang-Monroy, 36, of Guatemala City, Guatemala, pleaded guilty today for his in role in an international drug trafficking conspiracy involving the use of United States registered aircraft purchased in the Eastern District of Virginia to transport 2,000 kilograms of cocaine in Central and South America.
“Chang-Monroy admitted today to participating in an international drug-trafficking conspiracy involving the transportation of thousands of kilograms of cocaine across Central and South America using aircraft purchased within the Eastern District,” said Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “I commend our partners in state, federal, and international law enforcement for their cooperative efforts to unravel this massive drug conspiracy.”
“The plea agreement received from Chang-Monroy, a cocaine transporter in the international drug trade, is a reminder that justice will be served,” said Karl C. Colder, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Washington Field Division. “The DEA will continue to pursue the highest level of drug traffickers and work with our international and domestic partners to dismantle these criminal enterprises that threaten to bring these dangerous drugs inside our borders. As a result of the extraordinary efforts of U.S. law enforcement working together with our Guatemalan law enforcement partners, a significant drug trafficker in Central America has been brought to justice. This case serves as an example that there are no borders when it comes to prosecuting international narco-traffickers.”
“I am exceptionally proud of the teamwork with our federal partners,” said Colonel David R. Hines, Hanover County Sheriff. “This case is a perfect example of commitment and dedication among local and federal agencies working toward a common goal of serving our communities. I could not be more proud of the agencies and individual officers who worked so diligently to bring this case to a successful conclusion.”
In a statement of facts filed with the plea agreement, Chang-Monroy admitted to his role in the conspiracy to purchase two United States registered aircraft in the Eastern District of Virginia, for the purpose of transporting large amounts of cocaine from clandestine airstrips in Venezuela to clandestine airstrips in Honduras. Also as part of the conspiracy, Chang-Monroy arranged with the Venezuelan military for the safe passage of the drug trafficking aircraft through Venezuelan air space.
The first aircraft purchased by Chang-Monroy, a Beechcraft King Air C90 (“King Air C90”), was sold to a known Honduran drug trafficking organization in exchange for a percentage from the sale of the cocaine that was successfully transported on the aircraft and later distributed. On or about Oct. 27, 2013, the King Air C90 flew to Apure, Venezuela, where 1,000 kilograms of cocaine was loaded onto the aircraft and then successfully transported to Limon, Honduras. The second aircraft purchased by Chang-Monroy, a Beechcraft King Air E90 (“King Air E90”), was sold to a Colombian drug trafficking organization in exchange for U.S. currency. In order to prepare the King Air E90 for its illegal activities, Chang-Monroy arranged for multiple test flights to ensure its airworthiness, painted the aircraft to conceal its identity, and selected pilots to operate the aircraft during its trip to transport the cocaine. On or about March 2, 2014, the King Air E90 flew to Apure, Venezuela, and was loaded with 1,000 kilograms of cocaine. Prior to departure, upon seeing Venezuelan military aircraft overhead, the King Air E90 pilot refused to take off. Due to this delay, the cocaine was off-loaded from the King Air E90 and the Venezuelan military aircraft destroyed the King Air E90. On Sept. 10, 2015, Chang-Monroy was arrested in Guatemala City, Guatemala, and extradited to the United States on Dec. 1, 2015.
Chang-Monroy was indicted by a federal grand jury on May 6, 2015, and faces a maximum penalty of life in prison sentenced on July 18, 2016. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Karl C. Colder, Special Agent in Charge for the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Washington Field Division; Thomas M. Jankowski, Special Agent in Charge of IRS-Criminal Investigation’s (IRS-CI) Washington D.C. Field Office; Colonel David R. Hines, Hanover County Sheriff; and Colonel Thierry Dupuis, Chief of Chesterfield County Police, made the announcement after the plea was accepted by U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson.
This case was investigated by the DEA and IRS-CI in partnership with the FBI, Richmond Police Department, Virginia State Police, the DEA Guatemala Country Office, and the DEA Bogota Country Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Erik S. Siebert, Dominick S. Gerace, and Peter S. Duffey are prosecuting the case.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 3:14-cr-75.