Cindy Moran-Sanchez, Miami Border Patrol Agent & Drug Smuggling Ringleader, Gets 14 Years in Prison

Free Republic:  3 federal officers imprisoned for airport suitcase scheme (Sept 25 2010)

A husband, a wife and her sister — all uniformed federal officers in South Florida — plotted to allow couriers to carry loads of cocaine and heroin on flights from the Dominican Republic via Fort Lauderdale to New York, authorities say.

The suitcase scheme worked for a few years, until some of the couriers were caught with kilos of drugs, and federal agents figured out it was all an inside job.

This week, the group’s ringleader, Cindy Moran-Sanchez, 32, a former Customs and Border Protection officer from Cooper City, was sentenced to 14 years in prison on an importation conspiracy conviction.

U.S. Department of Justice Press Release:  Two Customs Officers and TSA Supervisor Sentenced in Connection with Drug Importation Scheme (Sept 28 2010)

… announced the sentencing of defendant Cindy Moran-Sanchez, a former Customs Officer at the Miami International Airport, on charges of conspiracy to smuggle cocaine and heroin into the United States from the Dominican Republic.

On September 21, 2010, U.S. District Judge James I. Cohn sentenced Moran to 168 months’ imprisonment, to be followed by 5 years’ supervised release and a $30,000 fine. Co-conspirators Elizabeth Moran-Toala, a former Customs Officer at the Fort Lauderdale International Airport, and Jose Sanchez, a former TSA supervisor at the Fort Lauderdale International Airport, have also been convicted and sentenced for their respective roles in the conspiracy. On June 25, 2009, Elizabeth Moran-Toala was sentenced to 120 months’ imprisonment; Jose Sanchez was sentenced on October 1, 2009 to 135 months’ imprisonment.

In May 2009, defendants Cindy Moran-Sanchez, her husband Jose Sanchez, and her sister Elizabeth Moran-Toala, were charged in a superseding indictment for their participation in a conspiracy to import and distribute heroin and cocaine. According to court records and statements made in court, defendants Moran-Sanchez and Moran-Toala used their positions as U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers, and their access to the TECS computer program, to facilitate the entry of drug couriers traveling from the Dominican Republic to the United States carrying suitcases filled with either heroin or cocaine. Jose Sanchez, in turn, used his position as a TSA supervisor at the Fort Lauderdale International Airport to ensure that the couriers and their drug-laden suitcases, successfully made their way on board domestic flights bound from Fort Lauderdale to New York, where the drugs would be delivered to their ultimate purchasers.

According to the charges and statements made in court, in 2006, the defendants traveled to the Dominican Republic and formulated a plan with a prior drug associate of Moran-Sanchez to use their respective positions within DHS to facilitate the importation of cocaine and heroin into the United States, and thereafter, to points within the United States. As part of this plan, the defendants agreed that the associate, who had previously been deported from the United States for a drug offense, would re-enter the United States using a false identity and that he would thereafter recruit couriers to travel to the Dominican Republic, retrieve the illegal narcotics and return with the narcotics to the United States. Once the narcotics arrived in the United States, Elizabeth Moran-Toala and Jose Sanchez would use their positions and contacts at CBP to ensure to the best of their ability that the couriers and illegal narcotics passed through the customs enclosure at the Fort Lauderdale Airport without being detected by law enforcement agents and thereafter passed through TSA checkpoints to be placed on domestic commercial aircraft. The group agreed that the associate would pay the defendants a per kilogram fee for each kilogram of either cocaine or heroin which was imported successfully as part of this scheme.

In September 2006, the associate reentered the United States using a false identity. After reentering the United States, he and others recruited couriers, as planned, to travel to the Dominican Republic and return with narcotics. Through the assistance of the defendants, several couriers successfully entered the United States with cocaine and heroin, which was later flown on domestic flights to the New York area. Five couriers were intercepted. These interdictions resulted in the seizure of approximately 30 kilograms of heroin and fifty kilograms of cocaine.

In January 2009 the defendants’ drug associate was arrested. The defendants were arrested in February 2009 following an undercover investigation, during which they assisted an undercover officer in passing a suitcase filled with ten kilograms of purported heroin through the TSA terminal checkpoint and loading that suitcase onto a US Airways flight. Agents arrested the defendants after they accepted $25,000 as a fee for their assistance.


Sun-Sentinel: South Florida-based customs, TSA workers sentenced for drug smuggling (Sept 29 2010)

Those sentenced were Cindy Moran-Sanchez, a former U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer at Miami International Airport, who got 14 years; her husband, Jose Sanchez, a former Transportation and Safety Administration supervisor at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, who got 11 years; and Moran-Sanchez’s sister Elizabeth Moran-Toala, a customs agent at the Fort Lauderdale airport, who got 10 years.

Moran-Sanchez, considered the ringleader, was the last to be sentenced last week. The others received their sentences within the past year.

The Sanchezes, who lived in Cooper City, and Moran-Toala were arrested in 2009 on charges of conspiracy to smuggle cocaine and heroin after they were busted in an undercover sting.

Palm Beach Post:  South Florida-based customs, TSA workers sentenced for drug smuggling (Sept 29 2010)

NBC Miami:  Ex-TSA Workers Sentenced in Drug Smuggling Caper (Sept 29 2010)

Three South Florida residents have been sentenced to significant prison time for their roles in a caper to smuggle drugs into the United Stated through local airports.

Cindy Moran-Sanchez, her husband Jose Sanchez and her sister Elizabeth Moran-Toala were part of a scheme to look the other way as drug smugglers imported cocaine and heroin into Miami International and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International airports in return for kickbacks from Latin American drugs lords.

Moran-Sanchez was a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer at MIA and is considered the ringleader.

Moran-Sanchez was sentenced to 14 years in prison …

ICE Press Release:  2 CBP officers and TSA supervisor sentenced to prison in connection with drug importation scheme (Sept 29 2010)

Cindy Moran-Sanchez, a former U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at the Miami International Airport, was sentenced to prison on charges of conspiracy to smuggle cocaine and heroin into the United States from the Dominican Republic following an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Office of Inspector General (OIG).

On Sept. 21, U.S. District Judge James I. Cohn sentenced Moran, 32, to 14 years in prison, to be followed by five years of supervised release and a $30,000 fine. Co-conspirators Elizabeth Moran-Toala, 39, a former CBP officer, and Jose Sanchez, 40, a former Transportation Security Administration (TSA) supervisor at the Fort Lauderdale International Airport, have also been convicted and sentenced for their respective roles in the conspiracy. On June 25, 2009, Elizabeth Moran-Toala was sentenced to 10 years in prison and Jose Sanchez was sentenced on Oct. 1, 2009 to 11 years and three months in prison.

In May 2009, Cindy Moran-Sanchez, her husband Jose Sanchez, and her sister Elizabeth Moran-Toala, were charged in a superseding indictment for their participation in a conspiracy to import and distribute heroin and cocaine. Moran-Sanchez and Moran-Toala used their positions as CBP officers, and their access to government databases, to facilitate the entry of drug couriers traveling from the Dominican Republic to the United States carrying suitcases filled with either heroin or cocaine.

Jose Sanchez, in turn, used his position as a TSA supervisor to ensure that the couriers and their drug-laden suitcases, successfully made their way on board domestic flights bound from Fort Lauderdale to New York, where the drugs would be delivered to their ultimate purchasers.

In 2006, the defendants traveled to the Dominican Republic and formulated a plan with a prior drug associate of Moran-Sanchez to use their respective positions within DHS to facilitate the importation of cocaine and heroin into the United States, and thereafter, to points within the United States.

As part of this plan, the defendants agreed that the associate, who had previously been deported from the United States for a drug offense, would re-enter the United States using a false identity and that he would thereafter recruit couriers to travel to the Dominican Republic, retrieve the illegal narcotics and return with the narcotics to the United States.

Once the narcotics arrived in the United States, Elizabeth Moran-Toala and Jose Sanchez would use their positions and contacts at CBP to ensure, to the best of their ability, that the couriers and illegal narcotics passed through the customs enclosure at the Fort Lauderdale Airport without being detected by law enforcement agents and thereafter passed through TSA checkpoints to be placed on domestic commercial aircraft. The group agreed that the associate would pay the defendants a per kilogram fee for each kilogram of either cocaine or heroin which was imported successfully as part of this scheme.

In September 2006, the associate reentered the United States using a false identity. After reentering the United States, he and others recruited couriers, as planned, to travel to the Dominican Republic and return with narcotics. Through the assistance of the defendants, several couriers successfully entered the United States with cocaine and heroin, which was later flown on domestic flights to the New York-area. Five couriers were intercepted. These interdictions resulted in the seizure of approximately 30 kilograms of heroin and fifty kilograms of cocaine.

In January 2009, the defendants’ drug associate was arrested. The defendants were arrested in February 2009 following an undercover investigation, during which they assisted an undercover officer in passing a suitcase filled with 10 kilograms of purported heroin through the TSA terminal checkpoint and loading that suitcase onto a US Airways flight. Federal agents arrested the defendants after they accepted $25,000 as a fee for their assistance.

Dominican Today:  South Florida-based customs workers sentenced for drug smuggling (Oct 2 2010)

Two federal customs agents and a transportation safety supervisor based in South Florida have been sentenced for their roles in a drug-smuggling operation that brought heroin and cocaine into the country, The Sun Sentinel reported this week.

According to the online paper, the three –a husband and wife and her sister– flew to the Dominican Republic to work out details of the scheme with drug dealers. It called for them to look away as smugglers entered the country through the Fort Lauderdale and Miami international airports.

The three sentenced last week were Cindy Moran-Sanchez, a former U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer at Miami International Airport, who got 14 years …

 

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