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U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Daniel Sterling, a/k/a Pancho, a/k/a Jose, 43, of Louisville, KY, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge John L. Sinatra, Jr. to conspiring to possess with intent to distribute, and distributing, five kilograms or more of cocaine. The charge carries a mandatory minimum penalty of 15 years in prison, a maximum of life, and a $20,000,000 fine.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael J. Adler, who is handling the case, stated that between October 2017, and December 7, 2018, the defendant conspired with 11 others to sell cocaine. Sterling and co-defendant Edgar Pavia brokered bulk quantity cocaine to multiple areas in the country including Buffalo, Kentucky, and Georgia. Pavia coordinated shipments of cocaine to Sterling in Kentucky and co-defendant Adrian Goudelock in Buffalo. For example, on June 28, 2018, Pavia told Sterling that a shipment of 40 kilograms of cocaine would be the last shipment at $28,000 per kilogram, since the price would be going up. Sterling received multiple shipments of cocaine brokered by Pavia in amounts of 10 kilograms, 15 kilograms, and 20 kilograms.
In September 2018, shortly after a shipment of cocaine was delivered to Sterling in Louisville, KY, approximately $1,144,735 in cash, proceeds of narcotics trafficking, was seized from a commercial truck driver in Chicago, Illinois. Approximately $350,000 came from Sterling in Kentucky. The money was destined to be transported back to El Paso and, eventually, Mexico.
On December 6, 2018, investigators observed Sterling meeting with another co-defendant Martin Lopez to receive 20 kilograms of cocaine that was inside a hidden compartment in Lopez’s vehicle. A search inside Sterling’s vehicle found approximately $620,470 concealed in a black duffle bag. A warrant conducted at Sterling’s residence located an additional $114,200.
Of the 12 defendants charged in this case, Sterling is the first to be convicted.
The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
The plea is the result of an investigation by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Kevin Kelly; the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Acting Special Agent-in-Charge Robert Guyton; the New York State Police, under the direction of Major James Hall; the Erie County Sheriff’s Department, under the direction of Sheriff Timothy Howard; and Customs and Border Protection, Air and Marine Unit, under the direction of Brian Manaher, Director, Marine Operations. Additional assistance was provided by the New York National Guard. Additional assistance was provided by HIS-Louisville; the Kentucky State Police; the Louisville Metro Police; and the Greater Hardin County Drug Task Force.
Sentencing will be scheduled later before Judge Sinatra.