- Reuters/Carlos Jasso
- An Army Special Forces veteran pleaded guilty to two drug trafficking conspiracy counts, admitting he attempted to smuggle nearly 90 pounds of cocaine from Colombia.
- Master Sgt. Daniel Gould was charged in August after officials at the US Embassy in Bogota discovered cocaine in gutted-out punching bags.
- An X-ray scan revealed the cocaine stash in the bags before they were loaded on a military aircraft bound for Florida.
- According to a US Attorney’s statement, Gould had previously smuggled 10 kilograms of cocaine into the US, then reinvested money from the first transaction to purchase the larger load.
A highly decorated Army Special Forces veteran pleaded guilty to charges of drug trafficking conspiracy, admitting he attempted to smuggle nearly 90 pounds of cocaine from Colombia to Florida aboard a military aircraft in August 2018.
Master Sgt. Daniel Gould first smuggled 10 kilograms of the narcotic in early 2018, according to the US Attorney’s statement. A co-defendant in the trial traveled to Colombia with the payment for the first load, which Gould then placed in a gutted-out punching bag.
According to a report by the Panama City News Herald, Gould had a driver transport the cocaine to Bogota, where it was placed on a military aircraft and transported to the US. The cocaine was then distributed in northwest Florida, according to the US Attorney’s statement. Gould was assigned to 7th Special Forces Group, an Army command garrisoned at Eglin Air Force Base in the same region.
The conspirators reinvested the money from the first load, sending about $65,000 back to Colombia on another military aircraft. Then, in early August, Gould returned to Colombia to retrieve the second load of cocaine.
Using the same method, Gould hid 40 kilograms – nearly 90 pounds with a street value over $1 million, according to US attorneys – in the punching bags. The cocaine was discovered at the US Embassy in Bogota on August 13, 2018, when the bags went through an X-ray. Gould had already departed Colombia when the drugs were discovered, and was waiting in Florida to retrieve them.
Gould was administratively separated from the Army in early December. The Green Beret received the Silver Star, the nation’s third-highest military award for valor, for combat action in Afghanistan in 2008.
One of Gould’s co-defendants, 35-year-old Henry Royer, pleaded not guilty to the same charges of drug trafficking, according to the Herald. A third man, Colombian national Gustavo Pareja, has also been indicted.
Gould will be sentenced on March 12; he faces 10 years to life on each count of conspiracy.