Brothers Plead Guilty To Trafficking Fifty Or More Kilos Of Marijuana
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Benjamin J. Daniels, 37, of West Bountiful, Utah, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Providence, R.I., today to participating in a conspiracy to ship 239 pounds of marijuana to Rhode Island from Pennsylvania in December 2013, announced United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha and Michael S. Shea, Acting Special Agent in Charge Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) for New England.
Appearing before U.S. District Court Chief Judge William E. Smith, Benjamin Daniels pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and posses with the intent to distribute fifty kilograms or more of marijuana. His brother, Michael Daniels, 32, of Tiverton, R.I., admitting to his role in the conspiracy, pleaded guilty on August 28, 2014, to conspiracy to distribute and posses with the intent to distribute fifty kilograms or more of marijuana.
According to information presented to the court, in December 2013, HSI agents in Pittsburgh, in conjunction with Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Division in Riverside, CA, conducted an investigation of a single-engine aircraft located at an airport in New Castle, PA. A court authorized search of the aircraft resulted in the discovery of twelve sealed boxes marked “Sun Max, Hot Water Solutions” which contained a total of 239 pounds of marijuana. HSI agents determined that Benjamin Daniels arranged for the pilot to fly the packages to New England for delivery, either to Benjamin Daniels or a person designated by him.
According to information presented to the court, on December 16, 2013, federal agents followed the shipment from Pennsylvania to North Central Airport in Smithfield, RI. Once on the ground, at the direction of Benjamin Daniels, the pilot made arrangements to transport the boxes to a hotel in Lincoln, RI. Once at the hotel, the pilot was instructed by Benjamin Daniels to meet up with a person who looked just like him. Federal agents watched as Michael Daniels pulled into the hotel parking lot, met with the pilot and began loading the boxes into a rented vehicle that he was driving. HSI agents arrested Michael Daniels, and seized the twelve boxes of marijuana and $4,694 in cash found on Michael Daniels’ person.
Michael Daniels is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Court Chief Judge William E. Smith on November 14, 2014. Benjamin Daniels is scheduled to be sentenced on December 19, 2014.
Conspiracy to distribute and posses with the intent to distribute fifty kilograms or more of marijuana is punishable by statutory penalties of up to 20 years in federal prison, a fine of up to $1,000,000 and a term of supervised release of up to life, with a minimum mandatory term of 3 years.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul F. Daly, Jr.
The Rhode Island State Police High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force and Warwick Police Department assisted in the investigation of this matter.
To assist the media and the public, a glossary of federal judicial terms and procedures is available at http://www.justice.gov/usao/justice101/