Texas Man Admits Chartering Plan to Bring Cocaine from Houston to Pittsburgh
PITTSBURGH, PA – A resident of Houston, Texas pleaded guilty in federal court to violation federal narcotics laws related to a nine-month Title III wiretap investigation into drug trafficking in and around the counties of Jefferson, Clearfield, and Allegheny, United States Attorney Cindy Chung announced today.
Jesus Gonzalez, age 36, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and one count of possession with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine before United States District Judge Christy Criswell Wiegand. Gonzalez was one of 47 defendants charged in six related indictments as part of the Return to Sender investigation.
In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that on October 22, 2020, Gonzalez and three other individuals chartered a private plane and transported six kilograms of cocaine from Houston to Pittsburgh International Airport. Investigators obtained a search warrant for the plane and seized the cocaine from two pieces of luggage.
Judge Wiegand scheduled sentencing for Feb. 6, 2023, at 10:00 a.m. The law provides for a maximum total sentence of not less than 10 years to a maximum of life in prison, a fine not to exceed $10,000,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.
Pending sentencing, the court ordered the defendant remain out on bond.
Assistant United States Attorneys Jonathan D. Lusty and Michael R. Ball are prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
The Drug Enforcement Administration led the multi-agency investigation of this case, which also included the Homeland Security Investigations, United States Postal Service – Office of Inspector General, United States Postal Inspection Service, Internal Revenue Services, Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, Allegheny County Police, and Pennsylvania State Police. Also assisting were the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office, Clearfield County District Attorney’s Office, and the Clarion Borough Police Department.
This prosecution is a result of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles high-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten communities throughout the United States. OCDETF uses a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.