Pilot, Passenger Plead Guilty To Drug Trafficking

WICHITA, Kansas – A pilot and a passenger in an airplane that landed in Liberal, Kan., in October 2009 carrying more than 114 pounds of cocaine have pleaded guilty to federal drug trafficking charges, U.S. Attorney Lanny Welch said Tuesday.

Both the pilot, Dean Bryan Moya, 40, Hemet, Calif., and the passenger, Richard Allen Vickery, 31, Hemet, Calif., pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting the distribution of cocaine.

In his plea, Moya admitted he was the pilot of a Cessna 210 aircraft that landed Oct. 22, 2009, at the Liberal Municipal Airport. Moya had picked up Vickery and the cocaine in California . He 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.

Homeland Security’s Air Marine Operations Center tracked the aircraft flying from Northern New Mexico and notified the Liberal Police Department that Moya, the pilot, was flying even though his medical certificate had been revoked due to drug use.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.

Sentencing is set for April 19, 2010. The defendants face a penalty of not less than 10 years and not more than life and a fine up to $4 million. Welch commended Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Liberal Police Department, the Beaver County, Okla., Sheriff’s Department, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, the Seward County Sheriff’s Department and Assistant U.S. Attorney Matt Treaster for their work on the case.