A 34-year-old New York man has pleaded guilty to federal charges for his part in an international trafficking operation after he traveled to Charleston to pick up 15 kilograms of cocaine.
Lamar Gayle of Brooklyn pleaded guilty Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Richmond, Va., to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine, according to court documents. A second count of the same charge was dropped. His sentencing is set for April 28.
Gayle faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum of life in prison, according to court documents.
Authorities found that Gayle and an unnamed co-conspirator traveled from Brooklyn to the Port of Charleston on Feb. 12 to pick up a shipment of cocaine that was set up by Javier King-Ariano, a Panamanian who heads a drug-trafficking organization, according to court documents. King-Ariano's overall trafficking operations ran from August 2015 to April 2016.
Gayle and his co-conspirator were ordered by the King-Ariano organization to travel to Charleston to pick up 15 kilos of cocaine for later distribution in New York, according to court documents. The two then boarded a commercial bus line.
On Feb. 14, authorities intercepted the bus in Sussex County, Va., according to court documents. During the stop, authorities saw Gayle hide a bag containing the cocaine under a seat inside the bus. Officers seized the bag and the drugs inside.
Gayle was indicted by a federal grand jury on Sept. 20, 2016, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. He faces a maximum sentence of life.
The U.S. Attorney's Office in Richmond did not return emails or phone calls seeking comment.