A federal grand jury has accused a Colorado man of trying to transport more than 70 pounds of cocaine through Baton Rouge on a private plane, acting U.S. Attorney Walt Green said Thursday.
Salzano, 55, of Aurora, Colo., was indicted by a federal grand jury in Baton Rouge on one count each of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and possession with intent to distribute cocaine.
If convicted on both counts, he faces up to life in prison, $20 million in fines, and forfeiture of the airplane involved in the criminal activity and any proceeds derived from the activity.
State Police say the drug bust prevented $1 million worth of cocaine from being delivered to Atlanta.
The indictment alleges that, on Oct. 7, Salzano met with other persons and boarded a plane Salzano controlled and that had been flown to Atlanta at Salzano’s direction.
The next day, Salzano allegedly flew from Atlanta to the McAllen, Texas, area — near the Mexican border — where he deplaned, left the airport and obtained some 30 packaged bundles of cocaine.
Salzano and another person then allegedly reboarded the plane, carrying the cocaine and intending to travel back to Atlanta, the indictment states.
The plane stopped in Baton Rouge for fuel, and Salzano was arrested by law enforcement agents.
It was the plane’s suspicious flight plan that alerted federal agents and prompted the search of the plane, court filings indicate.
The nearly 72 pounds of cocaine was secreted in two gym bags aboard the Beechcraft 58P twin-engine plane, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal district court in Baton Rouge.
The 23-year-old pilot, who was not arrested, told authorities he had been suspicious of his passengers but claimed he was unaware he was transporting narcotics.
Salzano has a previous conviction for distribution of cocaine.