WICHITA, Kan. - Three California men are charged with drug trafficking after authorities seized an airplane that landed at a Kansas airport which was discovered to be carrying more than 125 pounds of cocaine. The charges resulted from an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
An indictment returned in federal court Wednesday in Wichita charges Eric Wayne McPeters, 30, Dean Bryan Moya, 40, and Richard Allen Vickery, 31, all of Hemet, Calif., with one count each of possessing cocaine with intent to distribute.
Court documents allege that on Oct 22, a Cessna 210D aircraft with Moya and Vickery on board landed at the airport in Liberal, Kan. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air Marine Operations Center (AMOC) had tracked the aircraft as it flew from northern New Mexico. AMOC notified the Liberal Police Department that Moya was piloting the aircraft even though his medical certificate had been revoked due to drug use. A specially trained dog alerted investigators to the presence of narcotics. Investigators executed a search warrant and discovered more than 125 pounds of cocaine in two large suitcases inside the plane. Moya and Vickery were subsequently arrested at the Liberal Inn Motel in Liberal, Kan.
"Cocaine traffickers destroy lives and ruin communities," said Gilbert Trill, assistant special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Kansas City. "This case demonstrates that even the quiet communities in Kansas can be directly impacted by the illicit narcotics trade. ICE and our law enforcement partners are determined to bring down these criminal organizations that pose a threat to public safety."
If convicted, the defendants face a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in prison, and a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and a $4 million fine. The following agencies assisted ICE in the investigation: the Liberal Police Department, the 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 this case.
In all cases, defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. The indictments filed merely contain allegations of criminal conduct.