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Contraband
10/16/2009

4 defendants indicted on drug trafficking charges

Allegedly conspired to transport cocaine into the Atlanta area

ATLANTA - Four people were charged Oct. 23 following their arrest on felony cocaine trafficking-related charges. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) conducted the arrests and is investigating this case.

Rene Perez, 31, and Adrian Perez, 23, both of San Marcos, Texas; Jorge Olivo, 24, of Roswell, Ga.; and Donald Fontana, 68, of Plano, Texas, were arraigned before a U.S. Magistrate Judge.

The four alleged conspirators are accused of flying cocaine from Texas to the Peachtree City (Georgia) Airport. Olivo was also charged with weapon's possession in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, and with being a felon unlawfully possessing a firearm.

"This case demonstrates that even the quiet suburbs of Atlanta can be directly impacted by the illicit business conducted by Mexican-based criminal organizations," said Kenneth A. Smith, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Atlanta. "We remain committed to working with our law enforcement partners to counter this type of activity, and we are very appreciative of the support that they have given us in this case."

District Attorney Scott Ballard, Griffin Judicial Circuit in Fayette County said, "It is always reassuring to see federal and local law enforcement agencies teaming up to protect our citizens. "Our office stands ready to assist in any way that we can to bring these offenders to justice."

On Aug. 29, ICE special agents in Atlanta received information regarding a plane owned and operated by pilot Donald Fontana that would be arriving that day at Falcon Field airport (KFFC) in Peachtree City, Ga. ICE agents observed Fontana land the Cessna aircraft at KFFC and exit with two passengers later identified as Rene Perez and Adrian Perez. Fontana, Rene Perez, and Adrian Perez then allegedly offloaded six bags from the aircraft. ICE agents maintained surveillance as Fontana was dropped off at a local Sleep Inn hotel, and Rene Perez and Adrian Perez were dropped off with the six bags at a local Best Western hotel.

About one hour later, another vehicle arrived at the Best Western hotel driven by a person later identified as Jorge Olivo. ICE agents observed Olivo and Adrian Perez place the same bags into the vehicle outside. Olivo then left the hotel area after the bags had been loaded, and Peachtree City police officers attempted to conduct a traffic stop on the vehicle operated by Olivo. Olivo allegedly observed the marked police car approaching and began to flee at a high rate of speed. After a lengthy chase, Olivo was apprehended and a search of the vehicle revealed several bags containing about 173 kilograms (380 lbs.) of cocaine. Adrian Perez was arrested after he attempted to flee the Best Western hotel that evening.

All four were indicted by a federal grand jury on Oct. 7. The indictment charges them with possession with the intent to distribute cocaine, and the related conspiracy charge. The indictment also seeks to forfeit the Cessna 421-C airplane and a Colt .38-caliber handgun.

Members of the public are reminded that the indictment contains charges only. The defendants are presumed innocent, and it is the government's burden to prove the defendants' guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.

The case is being investigated by ICE and the Fayette County Sheriff's Department.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys David E. Suchar and Kurt R. Erskine, and the Fayette County District Attorney's Office, are prosecuting the case.