Pilot Pleads Guilty to Ecstasy Smuggling Charges

 - November 21, 2006, 5:48 AM

Former Flight Options pilot Franklin Rodriguez, 36, pleaded guilty last week in federal court to charges that while in the Air National Guard he and loadmaster John Fong, 37, smuggled into the U.S. some 300,000 Ecstasy pills–worth an estimated $11.6 million on the street–after conducting a military C-5 Galaxy mission from Germany to Stewart Airport in Newburgh, N.Y. The two men admitted to law enforcement officers that they had transported Ecstasy on previous military flights. As part of his plea, Rodriguez agreed to forfeit $726,000 in cash found in his apartment and nearly $50,000 on deposit to buy land. The charges carry a maximum jail sentence of 20 years and a fine of up to $1 million. Law enforcement officials said they didn’t yet know whether he transported Ecstasy while flying any civilian aircraft.