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Pilot, passenger in plane loaded with cocaine sentenced for drug trafficking

WICHITA, Kan. - The pilot and a passenger of an airplane carrying more than 114 pounds of cocaine when it landed at a Kansas airport were sentenced Monday in federal court for drug trafficking. The sentence resulted from an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The pilot, Dean Bryan Moya, 40, of Hemet, Calif., was sentenced to 60 months in federal prison. The passenger, Richard Allen Vickery, 31, of Hemet, Calif., was sentenced to 72 months. Both men pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting the distribution of cocaine.

According to court documents, Moya was piloting a Cessna 210 aircraft that landed on Oct. 22 at the airport in Liberal, Kan. Moya had picked up Vickery and the cocaine in California and was taking the drugs to Ohio for distribution. In his plea, Vickery admitted he was on board to shepherd the cocaine to Ohio for distribution.

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AMOC notified the Liberal Police Department that Moya was piloting the aircraft even though his medical certificate had been revoked due to drug use. At the airport a specially trained dog alerted investigators to the presence of narcotics. Investigators executed a search warrant and discovered more than 100 pounds of cocaine in two large suitcases inside the plane. Moya and Vickery were subsequently arrested at the Liberal Inn Motel in Liberal, Kan.

The following agencies assisted ICE in the investigation: the Liberal Police Department, the Beaver County Sheriff's Department, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, and the Seward County Sheriff's Department.

"Cocaine traffickers destroy lives and ruin communities," said Gilbert Trill, assistant special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Kansas City. "These prison sentences demonstrate 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."