SF Soldier Allegedly Attempted to Smuggle 90 Lbs of Cocaine into Florida
A decorated SF soldier from the 7th Special Forces Group was arrested on August 13 in connection with an attempt to bring 90 lbs of cocaine into Florida aboard a military aircraft. The haul is worth several million dollars.
US Army Master Sergeant Daniel Gould, a Silver Star recipient, was arrested after DEA agents found two backpacks filled with cocaine as the military aircraft was to leave from Colombia bound for Florida’s Eglin Air Force Base. Another service member found the drugs and alerted authorities. Gould was already in the US when the servicemember found the backpacks.
Investigators are looking into whether or not this was part of a larger drug ring linked to the US Military.
Gould had been on vacation in the city of Cali in southwest Colombia the week prior to his arrest. He was already back in the US when the drugs were discovered. Officials told NBC News that someone else put the two backpacks on the plane in Colombia but could not say whether that person was complicit in the smuggling attempt.
Now the investigation has reportedly turned to finding out what Gould was doing in Colombia during that vacation, whether others were involved in the smuggling attempt, and if this plot was undertaken by a larger network that has previously been linked to US military personnel.
According to an Aug. 26, 2018 report by Colombian newspaper El Tiempo, DEA investigators in Colombia are focusing on establishing who may have helped Gould acquire and transport the cocaine and whether military personnel involved in getting the drugs onto a plane knew what was going on.
Gould reportedly planned to leave Colombia on a commercial flight on Aug. 12, 2018, connecting through Miami before arriving at Fort Walton Beach, which is just a few minutes’ drive from Eglin Air Force Base.
However, according to El Tiempo, he changed his plans abruptly, switching his final destination to Pensacola, about an hour’s drive from his original destination — which may indicate he was aware the drugs had been discovered.
Investigators in Colombia are also trying to establish whether Gould had any connection to a trafficking network uncovered after the Oct. 2011 arrest of Lemar Burton, a US sailor caught with 11 pounds of cocaine in his luggage as he boarded a flight from Colombia to Europe.
Burton, assigned to Sigonella Naval Air Station in Sicily at the time, was in Colombia on personal leave, the US Embassy in Bogota said after his arrest. His arrest prompted an investigation that uncovered an international smuggling ring operating out of airports in Cali and Bogota, moving drugs to Europe.
The ring relied on couriers, mainly foreigners, to carry drugs in parcels like suitcases with false bottoms. In the months after Burton’s arrest, arrests were made in the US and Colombia. Several other US citizens were involved.
According to analysts, if Gould had been deeply involved in the ring, he would likely have used a different smuggling method. Authorities are looking into his actual involvement in the case.
Featured photo: U.S. Air Force/ Master Sgt. Jason Robertson