Four Plead Guilty in Multi-State Drug, Money-Laundering Conspiracy
PENSACOLA, FLORIDA – Aaron M. Booker, 26, Joseph F. Booker Jr., 28, and Kaishawndra Lyons, 25, all of Pensacola, and Uy Nguyen, 34, of Vallejo, California, have pled guilty to charges arising from a multi-state drug and money laundering conspiracy. The guilty pleas were announced by Christopher P. Canova, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.
Nguyen and the Booker Brothers pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances. All four defendants pled guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering. In addition to the money laundering conspiracy, Lyons also pled guilty to making false statements to federal agents.
Since 2015, federal, state and local law enforcement agencies have been investigating a multi-state drug trafficking and money laundering organization operating in Pensacola, Northern California, and elsewhere. The investigation disclosed that between February 2015, and December 2017, Nguyen shipped packages of cocaine and marijuana from California to the Booker Brothers in Pensacola. Using hidden social media, Nguyen sent his co-conspirators photographs of drug invoices and pictures of packages of cocaine and marijuana that he was shipping from California to Pensacola. Postal records show that the Booker Brothers and Lyons mailed more than two dozen currency-filled packages back to Nguyen as payment for the drugs. During the course of the investigation, law enforcement officers intercepted multiple packages of drugs that Nguyen shipped to his co-conspirators. Bank records revealed that the Booker Brothers and Lyons laundered drug monies by depositing proceeds from the sale of the marijuana and cocaine into bank accounts Nguyen opened in California.
In December 2017, law enforcement officers searched Nguyen’s residence and vehicle in northern California and located multiple kilograms of marijuana and a receipt for a newly mailed parcel heading to Pensacola. When law enforcement officers searched the Lyons/Booker residence, Aaron Booker’s cellular device was logged into the social media account that included drug invoices and mailing information for Nguyen. One of the images depicting mailing information was actually the receipt investigators recovered from Nguyen's vehicle at the time of his arrest. This parcel was intercepted by law enforcement officers and contained multiple pounds of marijuana. The search of the Lyons/Booker residence in Pensacola revealed over $300,000 in United States currency as well as over $300,000 in jewelry and high end clothing.
Based upon the drug invoices, law enforcement officers determined this conspiracy involved 250 kilograms of marijuana and more than 5 kilograms of cocaine. The conspirators laundered over a quarter million dollars through bank accounts and jewelry stores between Pensacola, Northern California, and other locations in the United States.
The defendants face 10 years to life in prison for the drug trafficking conspiracy and a maximum of 20 years in prison for the money laundering conspiracy. Lyons faces a maximum of 5 years in prison for making false statements.
Nguyen’s sentencing is scheduled for June 27, 2018. The sentencing for Aaron Booker is scheduled for July 17, 2018. Joseph Booker and Lyons will be sentenced on July 24, 2018.
This case resulted from an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Pensacola Police Department, the State Attorney’s Office – First Judicial Circuit, the U.S. Marshals Service, and the Gulf Coast High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program. Assistant United States Attorney David L. Goldberg is prosecuting the case.
This prosecution is part of an extensive investigation by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). OCDETF is a joint federal, state, and local cooperative approach to combat drug trafficking and is the nation’s primary tool for disrupting and dismantling major drug trafficking organizations, targeting national and regional level drug trafficking organizations and coordinating the necessary law enforcement entities and resources to disrupt or dismantle the targeted criminal organization and seize their assets.
The United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Florida is one of 94 offices that serve as the nation’s principal litigators under the direction of the Attorney General. To access public court documents online, please visit the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida website. For more information about the United States Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Florida, visit http://www.justice.gov/usao/fln/index.html.