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Airplane pilot and passenger plead guilty to trafficking cocaine

WICHITA, Kan. - A pilot who landed an airplane carrying more than 114 lbs. of cocaine at a Kansas airport, and his passenger, have pleaded guilty to federal drug trafficking charges. The guilty pleas resulted from an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Liberal Police Department in Kansas.

Dean Bryan Moya, 40, and his passenger, Richard Allen Vickery, 31, both of Hemet, Calif., pleaded guilty Jan. 26 in the District of Kansas to aiding and abetting the distribution of cocaine.

In his plea, Moya admitted to piloting a Cessna 210 airplane that landed at the Liberal Municipal Airport on Oct. 22, 2009. Moya picked up Vickery and the cocaine in California; they were taking the drugs to Ohio to distribute. Vickery further admitted he was on board the airplane to shepherd the cocaine to Ohio for distribution.

The Department of Homeland Security's Air and Marine Operations Center tracked the aircraft flying from northern New Mexico and notified the Liberal Police Department that Moya was flying even though his medical certificate had been revoked due to drug use. At the Liberal airport, a specially trained dog detected the presence of the narcotics.

Moya faces a minimum of 10 years and up to life in prison, and a fine up to $4 million. ICE was assisted in the investigation by the following law enforcement agencies: Beaver County, Okla., Sheriff's Department, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, and the Seward County, Kan., Sheriff's Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Matt Treaster, District of Kansas, is prosecuting the case.

"This case demonstrates that even the quiet towns of Kansas can be directly impacted by the illicit drug trade," said Gilbert Trill, assistant special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Kansas City. "Drug trafficking is a serious crime and ICE will use all of its investigative resources to keep illegal drugs off our streets."