BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A Colorado man charged with trying to transport more than 70 pounds of cocaine through Baton Rouge on a private aircraft has been indicted and faces a maximum sentence of life in prison and more than $20,000,000 in fines if he is convicted.
Vincenzo (Vincent) Salzano, 55, of Aurora, Colorado, was charged with conspiring to possess with the intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine and possession with the intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine. If convicted, he will also have to forfeit the airplane involved in the criminal activity and any proceeds derived from such activity.
Three men were arrested and nearly 72 pounds (about 32 kilos) of cocaine were seized at the Baton Rouge Metro Airport on October 9, 2013. The plane with the cocaine was scheduled to go to Atlanta, Georgia. The cocaine has a street value of just under $1 million.
Louisiana State Police were notified by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) that an aircraft that originated near the Texas/Mexico border was to land and refuel at the Baton Rouge Metro Airport. Officials believed there was suspicious activity with the flight.
The indictment states that Salzano met with other individuals and boarded Salzano's plane and flew to Atlanta. The next day they flew to McAllen, TX where, according to the indictment, Salzano left the airport and obtained about 30 packaged bundles of cocaine.
The indictment states that Salzano and another individual then allegedly re-boarded the plane, carrying the cocaine and intended to travel back to Atlanta. According to the indictment, Salzano's plane stopped in Baton Rouge for fuel, at which point Salzano was contacted by law enforcement agents and arrested.
The Beechcraft 58P twin engine airplane was met at the Baton Rouge Metro Airport by ICE agents. When agents arrived, the plane was occupied by the pilot and three passengers. Vincenzo Salzano, 55, identified himself as the co-owner of the plane. After officials obtained verbal consent to search the plane from Salzano, 71.8 pounds of cocaine was discovered.
The pilot was hired by Mohammad Nekouie, 32, who is Salzano's son-in-law, to fly them along with Armondo Salzano, 32, who is Vincenzo's son, from McAllen, TX to Atlanta, GA. The pilot was not arrested.
All three are from Colorado.
All three were charged with possession with intent to distribute cocaine. They were each held on a $1 million bond.