Eight individuals were charged in an indictment, unsealed today in the Eastern District of Louisiana, for their involvement in an international scheme to smuggle 24 undocumented individuals from Honduras into Louisiana aboard the Motor Vessel (M/V) “Pop,” which is owned by one of the defendants. One of the defendants was also arrested for conspiring to possess with intent to distribute 24 kilograms of cocaine seized on this boat which the U.S. Coast Guard interdicted off the coast of Grand Isle, Louisiana, in February 2022.
Carl Allison, aka Car, 46, of Irwin, Pennsylvania, and Lindomar De La Rosa, aka Omar, aka Dr. Diablo, 37, of Atlanta, were arrested earlier today. Co-defendants Josue Alexander Flores-Villeda, 35, Darrel Martinez, 40, and Lenard Cooper, 39, are in custody on separate warrants. Co-defendants Rudy Jackson Hernandez, 35, and Hennessey Devon Cooper, 26, remain on bond. The final defendant, Lance Vroon, 39, remains at large. The eight individuals were charged with conspiring to bring aliens to the United States and to encourage and induce aliens to come to, enter, and reside in the United States for commercial advantage and private financial gain; and attempting to bring aliens to the United States for commercial advantage and private financial gain. Josue Alexander Flores-Villeda, aka Alex, 35, of Honduras, is additionally charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine hydrochloride.
According to the indictment, from on or about December 2021 until on or about Feb. 14, 2022, Allison, De La Rosa, and the other defendants attempted to bring 24 undocumented persons from Honduras to the United States aboard the M/V “Pop,” owned by Allison. The Coast Guard interdicted the M/V Pop off the coast of Grand Isle on Feb. 15. Twenty-four kilograms of cocaine were seized from the captain’s cabin aboard the ship.
If convicted of the human smuggling offenses, each defendant faces a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison. If convicted of the drug conspiracy offense, Villeda faces between 10 years and life in prison.
Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans of the Eastern District of Louisiana and Special Agent in Charge David Denton of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) New Orleans Field Office made the announcement.
This case is being investigated by HSI Houma, with assistance from HSI Pittsburgh, HSI Atlanta, and the Louisiana Bureau of Investigation. The U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air and Marine Officers, Louisiana State Police, Pennsylvania State Police, the North Huntingdon Township Police and the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s Office provided valuable assistance in the investigation.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys David Howard Sinkman and Carter Guice for the Eastern District of Louisiana, and Trial Attorney Rami S. Badawy of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section are prosecuting the case.
Coordination and support for the investigation is being provided by Joint Task Force Alpha (JTFA), which was established by Attorney General Merrick B. Garland in June 2021 to marshal the investigative and prosecutorial resources of the Department of Justice, in partnership with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), to enhance U.S. enforcement efforts against the most prolific and dangerous human smuggling and trafficking groups operating in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. JTFA consists of federal prosecutors from border U.S. Attorney’s Offices, from the Criminal Division and the Civil Rights Division, along with law enforcement agents and analysts from HSI and CBP. The FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration are also part of the task force, along with other interagency partners.
An indictment is merely an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.