News -- May 10, 2022 -- An indictment announced today in the Eastern District of Louisiana charges eight people with participating in an international plan to transport 24 undocumented immigrants from Honduras into Louisiana aboard the Motor Vessel (M/V) "Pop," which is owned by one of the defendants.
One of the defendants was additionally charged with conspiring to possess with intent to distribute 24 kilograms of cocaine found on the boat, which was intercepted by the United States Coast Guard off the coast of Grand Isle, Louisiana, in February 2022.
Carl Allison, alias Car, 46, of Irwin, Pennsylvania, was detained earlier today, as was Lindomar De La Rosa, aka Omar, aka Dr. Diablo, 37, of Atlanta. Separate warrants have been issued for co-defendants Josue Alexander Flores-Villeda, 35, Darrel Martinez, 40, and Lenard Cooper, 39. Rudy Jackson Hernandez, 35, and Hennessey Devon Cooper, 26, are still free on bail. Lance Vroon, the final defendant, is still on the loose. The eight people were charged with conspiring to bring aliens to the United States and encouraging and inducing aliens to come to, enter, and reside in the United States for commercial and private financial gain, as well as attempting to bring aliens to the United States for commercial and private financial gain. Josue Alexander Flores-Villeda, aka Alex, 35, of Honduras, is also accused of conspiring to distribute and possessing cocaine hydrochloride in quantities of five kilos or more.
Allison, De La Rosa, and the other defendants attempted to smuggle 24 undocumented people from Honduras to the United States onboard Allison's M/V "Pop" from December 2021 to February 14, 2022, according to the indictment. On February 15, the M/V Pop was intercepted by the Shore Guard off the coast of Grand Isle. On board the ship, 24 kg of cocaine were seized from the captain's cabin.
Each defendant faces a maximum statutory sentence of 10 years in jail if convicted of the people smuggling counts. Villeda faces a sentence of 10 years to life in prison if convicted of the narcotics conspiracy charge.
Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans of the Eastern District of Louisiana and Special Agent in Charge David Denton of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) New Orleans Field Office made the announcement.
This case is being investigated by HSI Houma, with assistance from HSI Pittsburgh, HSI Atlanta, and the Louisiana Bureau of Investigation. The U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air and Marine Officers, Louisiana State Police, Pennsylvania State Police, the North Huntingdon Township Police and the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s Office provided valuable assistance in the investigation.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys David Howard Sinkman and Carter Guice for the Eastern District of Louisiana, and Trial Attorney Rami S. Badawy of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section are prosecuting the case.
Coordination and support for the investigation is being provided by Joint Task Force Alpha (JTFA), which was established by Attorney General Merrick B. Garland in June 2021 to marshal the investigative and prosecutorial resources of the Department of Justice, in partnership with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), to enhance U.S. enforcement efforts against the most prolific and dangerous human smuggling and trafficking groups operating in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. JTFA consists of federal prosecutors from border U.S. Attorney’s Offices, from the Criminal Division and the Civil Rights Division, along with law enforcement agents and analysts from HSI and CBP. The FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration are also part of the task force, along with other interagency partners.
An indictment is merely an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
Wnctimes by Marjorie Farrington