PTC cocaine airlift nets 2 pleas


An extensive undercover operation that discovered more than 380 pounds of cocaine being smuggled into Peachtree City’s Falcon Field Airport Aug. 29 has ended with two men pleading guilty in federal court.

Jorge Olivo, 24, of Roswell and Rene Perez, 32, of San Marcos, Texas pled guilty last week to conspiracy charges for possession of more than 380 pounds of cocaine that was flown here from Texas, according to officials from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Atlanta.

Olivo and Perez are scheduled to be sentenced in late March. Olivo could get up to 25 years in prison and Perez faces up to 20 years in prison.

They both also face fines of up to $4 million, court officials said.

Shortly after the drugs landed in Peachtree City, Olivo led police on a high-speed chase south on Peachtree Parkway in the Kedron Village area, which turned eastbound on Ga. Highway 54 before it ended a short distance from Piedmont Fayette Hospital. No one was injured in the incident.

Undercover drug agents had the plane under surveillance when the contraband was unloaded and when Perez was dropped off at a local Best Western hotel with another person from the plane with the drugs, officials said.

About an hour later, officers saw Olivo drive up the hotel and load the drugs into a vehicle, officials said. As he drove away, a Peachtree City police officer attempted to pull over Olivo for a traffic violation, but he sped away, touching off a high-speed pursuit, police said.

An eyewitness said Olivo nearly ran over a sheriff’s deputy who attempted to stop the pursuit.

Olivo had a .38 caliber handgun in his possession at the time of the traffic stop, officials said.

Olivo, Perez and other unidentified persons were indicted Oct. 7 by a federal grand jury, officials said.

While the court must consider the recommended sentencing ranges provided by federal sentencing guidelines, the federal system is unique in that there is no parole system for offenders to be released early.

The investigation was handled by the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office Tactical Narcotics Team along with the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Fayette County District Attorney’s office.

The investigation was the result of law enforcement working together to “target narcotics smuggling and money laundering organizations operating in and around Atlanta,” said Kenneth A. Smith, special agent in charge of the ICE office of investigations in Atlanta.

Fayette County District Attorney Ballard said he was proud of the cooperation between TNT and federal officers.

“It is comforting to know that there are multiple layers of protection for the citizens against drug smugglers,” Ballard said.