News Release
August 31, 2007
Erin Mulvey
Public Information Officer
212 337-2906

United States Military Officer Sentenced to Over 17 Years in Prison for Importing Ecstasy on United States Air Force Aircraft

AUG 31 -- MANHATTAN, NY – JOHN P. GILBRIDE, the Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Office of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) and MICHAEL J. GARCIA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York announced that Master Sergeant JOHN FONG of the United States Air National Guard was sentenced on August 31, 2007 to 210 months in prison on federal narcotics charges stemming from his importation of Ecstasy on board a U.S. Air Force plane. The sentence was imposed by United States District Judge JOHN G. KOELTL.

“Justice has been served. John Fong betrayed the public trust by smuggling illegal drugs into the very community he was entrusted to protect. For his betrayal and for his illegal drug trafficking, he will be spending the next 17 years behind bars,” stated Special Agent in Charge John P. Gilbride.

FONG, 38, and his co-defendant FRANKLIN RODRIGUEZ, a former Captain in the United States Air National Guard, both pleaded guilty on May 19, 2006, to one count of conspiring to import into the United States, and one count of conspiring to possess and distribute Ecstasy. The charges were the result of an international investigation of the importation of Ecstasy on military aircraft and the distribution of the drug in the United States. As set forth in the Indictment: On April 12, 2005, RODRIGUEZ and FONG flew from Germany to Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, New York, aboard a United States Air Force C-5A “Galaxy” cargo aircraft on which they had hidden more than 200,000 Ecstasy pills. RODRIGUEZ also stored Ecstasy pills and approximately $725,000 in cash in his apartment in the Bronx, New York, and RODRIGUEZ and FONG stored approximately 60,000 pills in an automobile in Tampa, Florida. Judge KOELTL sentenced RODRIGUEZ to 17 ½ years’ imprisonment on October 13, 2006.

Mr. GARCIA praised the efforts of the Drug Enforcement Administration and the members of the New York Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Strike Force, who led the investigation along with this Office. The Strike Force was formed in May 2004, with the stated purpose of identifying, targeting, and dismantling the world’s most sophisticated and powerful narcotics trafficking organizations. Consisting of more than 200 law enforcement officers from the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, the New York City Police Department, the United States Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, the Department of Homeland Security Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the New York State Police, the United States Marshals Service, the United State Secret Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Strike Force combines the resources and talents of the participating agencies to bear against the largest suppliers of illegal drugs to the United States.

Mr. GARCIA also thanked the military personnel at Stewart Air National Guard Base, the United States Air Force, Office of Special Investigations, and the United States Department of Defense, Defense Criminal Investigative Service, for their assistance.