Local Military Member Pleads Guilty in International Cocaine Importation Conspiracy
PENSACOLA, FLORIDA – Daniel J. Gould, 36, of Crestview, pleaded guilty yesterday to two drug trafficking conspiracy counts involving 5 kilograms or more of cocaine. The guilty plea was announced by Christopher P. Canova, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.
Between January and August 2018 in the Northern District of Florida and in the country of Colombia, Daniel Gould of the United States Army conspired to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine, knowing it would be unlawfully imported into the United States. He also conspired to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine.
In August 2018, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) received information that Gould had attempted to import 40 kilograms of cocaine onto a military transport flight in Colombia with a final destination of the Northern District of Florida. Suspicion was aroused at the United States Embassy when packages were x-rayed, revealing cocaine within gutted out punching bags. On August 13, 2018, when the cocaine was seized at the embassy, Gould had already returned home and was awaiting its arrival.
The conspiracy began in early 2018 when Gould and his co-defendants conspired to import 10 kilograms of cocaine into the United States. Gould’s co-defendant traveled to Colombia with U.S. currency to use as payment. Another co-defendant confirmed he could acquire cocaine for $1,800-$1,900 per kilogram. Gould placed the cocaine in a gutted punching bag and had the package transported to Bogota to be placed on a United States military aircraft.
A few days later, the cocaine-filled punching bag arrived at Duke Field. Gould and a co-defendant distributed the 10 kilograms of cocaine in Northwest Florida.
Gould and his co-defendant reinvested the money from the first load of cocaine into a second load of 40 kilograms of cocaine. Gould placed approximately $65,000 on a United States military cargo aircraft destined for Colombia as funds for the next purchase.
In early August, Gould and his co-defendant returned to Colombia and provided their co-defendant the money for the 40 kilograms. Gould and his co-defendant received the cocaine, loaded the 40 kilograms into two gutted punching bags, and coordinated their transport to the embassy before flying back to the United States. The estimated value of 40 kilograms of cocaine in the Northern District of Florida would be in excess of $1 million.
Gould faces 10 years to life in prison for each of the drug trafficking conspiracy charges. The sentencing hearing is scheduled for March 12, 2019, at 10:30 a.m. in the U.S. District Court in Pensacola.
This case resulted from an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Gulf Coast High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program. Assistant United States Attorney David L. Goldberg is prosecuting the case.
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.