Principal Figure Sentenced On Guilty Plea In Drug Case
SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) _ The man authorities described as the principal figure in the largest documented cocaine ring ever uncovered today was sentenced to 10 years in prison and fined more than $260,000.
Frederick Luytjes was sentenced in U.S. District Court by Judge Richard P. Conaboy. Luytjes earlier pleaded guilty to two smuggling charges as part of a plea agreement.
He was originally indicted in another case last year, but those charges were dropped when he agreed to cooperate with authorities. Assistant U.S. Attorney Gordon A.D. Zubrod said the government agreed to negotiate the plea agreement because of Luytjes’ help.
″The danger that Mr. Luytjes faced was incredible,″ Zubrod said. ″He had to be out there alone.″
The judge said he had ″very deep concerns″ about the agreement because he wants sentences to fit the crime. But Conaboy said he recognized that ″you can’t catch criminals without the help of other criminals.″
Thirteen people were indicted earlier this year in a drug ring that involved Air America, a charter service at the Wilkes-Barre-Scranton International Airport.
Authorities said the ring smuggled 7 1/2 tons of cocaine into the country from 1980 to 1986, flying from wilderness airfields in Colombia to airports in Pennsylvania and New York. According to authorities, the ring netted at least $25 million in profits from 22 flights.
U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese called the amount of drugs the ″largest documented amount of cocaine smuggled into this country by a single trafficking agency.″
Conaboy also sentenced ring member Michael Phillippo of West Chester, N.Y., today to eight years in prison. Phillippo pleaded guilty earlier to a charge of helping to unload cocaine flown to central Pennsylvania from Colombia.
Another defendant, Anthony E. Deck, of Albuquerque, N.M., pleaded guilty today to one count of conspiracy and defrauding the Internal Revenue Service and a second count of money-laundering.