United States Military Pilot and Master Sergeant Charged With Importing Narcotics on United States Air Force Aircraft
JOHN GILBRIDE, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New York Field Division, on behalf of the New York Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Strike Force, announced today that Captain FRANKLIN RODRIGUEZ and Master Sergeant JOHN FONG of the United States Air National Guard were arrested late yesterday on federal narcotics charges.
Mr. GILBRIDE stated: “Ecstasy is an extremely harmful drug that is abused mainly by teenagers and young adults. It is appalling that individuals, who volunteered to protect the citizens of the United States, turn around and betray the public trust by smuggling poison into the very community they were entrusted to protect.”
According to the Complaint filed in Manhattan federal court today, RODRIGUEZ is a pilot of United States Air Force C-5A “Galaxy” cargo aircraft and FONG is a load master. The Complaint alleges that on or about April 8, 2005, RODRIGUEZ and FONG flew a United States Air Force C-5A aircraft from Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, New York, to Germany as part of an official mission to deliver training supplies to the Republic of Georgia. After arriving in Germany, the crew, including RODRIGUEZ and FONG, flew to the Republic of Georgia and then returned to Germany. According to the Complaint, while they were in Germany, RODRIGUEZ and FONG went to a hotel room and loaded packages containing pills of 3, 4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine, commonly known as “MDMA” or “Ecstasy” into their personal luggage.
According to the Complaint, on or about April 12, 2005, RODRIGUEZ and FONG flew on the United States Air Force C-5A aircraft from Germany to Stewart Air National Guard Base. Shortly after they landed, federal law enforcement agents searched luggage that belonged to RODRIGUEZ and FONG and found 28 large bags believed to contain at least 290,000 pills of Ecstasy.
The Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Strike Force,is comprised of members of DEA, NYPD, FBI, IRS, ICE and NYSP. SAC Gilbride thanked Brigadier General DANA DEMAND, New York Air National Guard and the United States Department of Defense, Defense Criminal Investigative Service, for its assistance in this investigation.
The Complaint charges RODRIGUEZ and FONG with one count of conspiracy to import Ecstasy into the United States and one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute Ecstasy.
If convicted of the charges, RODRIGUEZ and FONG face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison on each count and a $1,000,000 fine on each count.