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Now that's a lotta pills..... :tank::boohoo:

Soldiers Charged With Importing Ecstasy During Mission

POSTED: 7:38 pm EDT April 13, 2005

UPDATED: 8:05 pm EDT April 13, 2005

NEW YORK -- A U.S. military pilot and a master sergeant have been arrested on federal narcotics charges, accused of flying a U.S. Air Force jet from New York to Germany and returning with 290,000 pills of Ecstasy worth millions of dollars, authorities announced Wednesday.

Capt. Franklin Rodriguez, 35, and Master Sgt. John Fong, 36, of the U.S. Air National Guard were arrested Tuesday when their C-5A "Galaxy" cargo plane returned from Germany after an official mission to deliver training supplies to the Republic of Georgia.

Rodriguez, the pilot, and Fong, a load master, both of New York City, were charged with making the drug pickup after flying the Air Force plane from Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh to Germany, according to a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

A telephone message left with a lawyer for the defendants was not returned.

The crew arrived in Germany before flying to the Republic of Georgia and then returning to Germany, federal prosecutors said in a release.

While in Germany, Rodriguez and Fong allegedly went to a hotel room and loaded packages of Ecstasy into their personal luggage, the complaint alleged.

They then flew from Germany to Stewart Air National Guard Base, where federal law enforcement agents searched their luggage and found 28 large bags believed to contain the pills, authorities said.

Christopher Giovino, an associate special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration's New York Strike Force, said the arrests occurred as part of a probe that had been going on for some time.

He said the men were believed to have made other trips in which they returned with drugs. Rodriguez had been in the air national guard for 10 years while Fong had been employed for seven years, he said.

He said others were involved in the drug distribution network, though it was not believed that any other members of the military were part of it.

"They have no tolerance for anything like this in the military," Giovino said, citing cooperation from the military that included full access to military bases by investigators.

Giovino said each pill of Ecstasy could be sold on the street at prices ranging from $9 to $40 a pill. That means the drugs seized in the case could be worth between $2.9 million and $11.6 million on the street.

He said both men were "extremely well compensated as transporters" and that the Internal Revenue Service was investigating how revenues were spent.

John Gilbride, special agent in charge of the DEA's New York office, said in a statement that it was "appalling that individuals who volunteered to protect the citizens of the United States turn around and betray the public trust by smuggling poison into the very community they were entrusted to protect."

Martin D. Ficke, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agent in charge for New York, called it "a travesty to all those in uniform that these defendants felt they could allegedly use their positions of trust and authority to traffic narcotics across our borders and onto our streets."

If convicted, the men face a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine on each of one count of conspiracy to import Ecstasy into the United States and one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute Ecstasy, prosecutors said.

Ecstasy, also known as MDMA, is a synthetic drug considered part hallucinogen and part amphetamine. The drug became popular at dance parties because of the energy and euphoria it gave to users, but it has harmful side effects. It can lead to brain, heart and kidney damage.

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