New Haven, Conn. – Arrinson De La Cruz, 40, a citizen of the Dominican Republic, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Janet C. Hall in New Haven to 12 years of imprisonment for his role in the large-scale importation of cocaine and other controlled substances into the U.S.

According to court documents and statements made in court, in 2016, De La Cruz, who was residing in Wolcott, Connecticut, on a tourist visa, conspired with others to transport approximately 1600 kilograms of cocaine from South America to the U.S.

On Aug. 6, 2016, a private jet, registered in the U.S., flew from the Dominican Republic to Venezuela where the cocaine was to be loaded onto the jet.  From there, the jet was to fly Honduras where the cocaine would be loaded onto trucks for transport through Mexico into the U.S.

De La Cruz worked at an airport in the Dominican Republic and helped to coordinate the travel of the jet through the airport uninterrupted. A fake flight plan filed with Dominican authorities reported the plane was traveling to Brazil.

Ultimately, the plane crash-landed in Venezuela, the crew evaded capture by Venezuelan authorities, and the cocaine was diverted back to Colombia.

After the collapse of the cocaine importation scheme, De La Cruz attempted to coordinate additional shipments of drugs into the U.S, and also contacted others in and around Connecticut to sell heroin, cocaine and 2C-B, a synthetic psychedelic drug.

On Sep. 18, 2016, De La Cruz was arrested in Milford, Connecticut, after a search of a car he was traveling in revealed 2C-B that De La Cruz intended to distribute in Massachusetts.

In November 2016 and December 2017, while he was released on bond, De La Cruz continued to conspire to distribute cocaine. He has been detained since his arrest on Dec. 20, 2017.

On March 27, 2019, De La Cruz pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, on board an aircraft registered in the U.S., five kilograms or more of cocaine; one count of possession with intent to distribute 2C-B, and one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine.

This investigation was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration New Haven Task Force and the Wolcott Police Department.  The DEA New Haven Task Force includes participants from the U.S. Marshals Service, Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division, and the New Haven, Hamden, West Haven, North Haven, Branford, Ansonia, Meriden, Derby, Middletown, Naugatuck and Waterbury Police Departments.