Drug Fugitive Pleads Guilty After 15 Years on the Lam
OCT 21 -- (Seattle) – DEA Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Arnold R. Moorin and the United States Attorney for the Western District of Washington, Jeffrey Sullivan, announced that on October 16, 2008, Frank Falco, pleaded guilty in U.S District Court to Money Laundering in connection with a 1992 drug smuggling conspiracy that imported 50,000 pounds of hashish into the U.S. In March 2008, Falco was arrested after he turned himself in at the U.S Consulate in Guadalajara after being on the run for almost 15 years.
“This case personifies the tenacity of federal law enforcement,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Arnold R. Moorin. “Frank Falco was able to live free for 15 years on the profits of his illegal venture. The time has come for him to settle up with the justice system and pay for his past acts.”
According to the plea agreement, in 1992 Falco joined with co-conspirators Jeffrey Jay Warren and others in a scheme to smuggle 50,000 pounds of hashish from Pakistan into the United States. The men hired a fisherman, Robert Tillitz, to arrange the transfer of the hashish from a freighter to a smaller fishing boat off the coast of Washington. Tillitz rented a home and a warehouse in South Bend, Washington as well as a boat named the “Kila Kila”, a truck and a trailer. In July 1992, the Kila Kila transported 50,000 pounds of hashish to shore, which was distributed to Oregon, California, and New York by rental trucks. Falco arranged for warehouse storage for the hashish in New York and later had it distributed to buyers in Toronto, Canada. Falco approved all drug sales, prices and was in charge of distributing drug proceeds. Between 1992 and 1994, Falco paid between $8 million and $8.2 million to Warren as his share of the drug proceeds.
On September 18, 1992, a search warrant was served on Tillitz’home in Crescent City, California, and law enforcement found $445,000 buried in the front yard. In 1994, a Seattle federal grand jury indicted numerous co-conspirators, at which time Falco, Tillitz and Warren fled to Mexico. In 1998, Tillitz was arrested in Mexico, extradited, and was convicted by a federal jury in Tacoma. Tillitz was sentenced to over 10 years in prison. In April 2007, Warren was arrested near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, extradited, and has pleaded guilty. Warren is awaiting sentencing on November 21, 2008. Falco is set for sentencing on January 9, 2009 and faces up to twenty years in prison.
This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Internal Revenue Service.