A federal judge sentenced a 53-year-old Dallas man who admitted to his role in transporting cocaine on flights from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport to 15 years and eight months in prison, officials said Thursday.
Moniteveti Katoa, a/k/a “Vince,” plead in January to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribute at least five kilograms or more of cocaine.
Katoa also told undercover officers that he could sneak a bomb into the airport if he wanted to do so, according to officials.
Katoa, and three others, Funaki Falahola, 34, Molitoni Katoa, 34, and Janelle Isaacs, 42, plead guilty with being involved in the cocaine distribution conspiracy.
According to documents, the four used their positions of employment at Dallas-Fort Worth to bypass airport security to transport cocaine, according to officials.
As part of the conspiracy, that ran from approximately April 18, 2013, through July 14, 2015, the cocaine was taken on commercial airlines flying from Dallas-Fort Worth to destinations in Las Vegas, Nevada; Newark, New Jersey; Phoenix, Arizona; Chicago, Illinois; Wichita Kansas; and San Francisco, California, officials said.
Molitoni Katoa was sentenced last week to seven years six months in federal prison. Funaki Falahola is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 20, and Janelle Isaacs is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 1.
The two are facing up to live in prison, officials said.
Since mid-July 2015 a law enforcement operation led by the FBI, the Dallas Police Department and IRS in which numerous defendants were arrested on drug distribution conspiracy and related charges outlined in a federal indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Dallas.
The indictment charged Funaki Falahola told undercover officers he had family members that could transport controlled substances via commercial airline. Funaki Falahola introduced Moniteveti Katoa to agents as his Uncle and family leader, according to officials.
Molitoni Katoa was also introduced as Falahola’s cousin and a person that could smuggle controlled substances into the Dallas-Fort Worth airport through his job at the cargo area at the airport. Moniteveti Katoa’s wife, Janelle Isaacs, worked for American Airlines.
According to testimony at Thursday’s sentencing hearing, Moniteveti Katoa told undercover agents in November 2014 that he had the airport wired so well he could sneak a bomb into the airport if he wanted to. In December 2014, agents asked Moniteveti Katoa if he would be willing to smuggle plastic explosives into the airport.
Moniteveti Katoa initially expressed concern about the possibility of the explosives exploding in an airplane.
After being told by undercover officers that they would not explode without a detonator, Moniteveti Katoa agreed to smuggle the explosives into the airport as he had done previously with the “cocaine.”
Moniteveti Katoa agreed to bypass security at DFW airport and then hand the explosives to another person for that person to fly the explosives on an airplane to another city, according to authorities.
Falahola introduced Moniteveti Katoa to the undercover officer who was interested in smuggling cocaine from Dallas-Fort Worth Airport. He noted that Moniteveti Katoa had worked for American Airlines for 25 years and was a leader in the Tongan community, officials said.
Falahola advised the undercover officers that they could transport the cocaine to major U.S. cities as well as to Hawaii and New Zealand.
Moniteveti Katoa advised the undercover officer that he was willing to fly to locations in advance of smuggling the cocaine to conduct security checks.
According to plea documents filed in his case, from September 2013 through May 2015, Moniteveti Katoa smuggled what he thought was cocaine on at least six flights from DFW Airport to Las Vegas, Newark, Chicago, Wichita, San Francisco, and Tempe, Arizona.