How Pilot Ferried Drugs for the Sinaloa Cartel Until He Was Caught


The Los Angeles Times, in a series on Mexico’s Sinaloa drug cartel, tells how pilot John Charles Ward would smuggle drugs into the U.S. in a single-engine aircraft. In one deal, he delivered cocaine to a distributor in Pennsylvania and returned with duffel bags stuffed with up to $2.8 million, keeping a few 6-inch stacks of cash for himself. Ward was an expert at covering his tracks. He usually stayed at a cottage-style motel just off the runway at the self-described “Gateway to Pennsylvania’s Amish Country.”

After midnight he donned black clothing and lugged cocaine-filled gym bags from the plane to his room. He avoided people, paid cash for most purchases and, if anybody asked, said he was an aircraft broker. “The money never stopped. The product never stopped,” he said. “Everything was moving continuously.” Eventually Ward, 64, was caught, and he now is four years into a 10-year federal prison sentence at a minimum-security facility in California.

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