FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) — An undercover investigation led to the arrest of three men at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport on Thursday.
Suresh Maharaj, Ricardo Lesmes-Noguera, and Leonardo Abramovich were arrested after, according to the criminal complaint, the DEA found probable cause to believe the three, “conspired with each other to possess with intent to distribute cocaine.”
The investigation began with information from a DEA confidential source.
On March 27, the undercover agent contacted an individual based in Colombia who acts as an aviation broker for narcotic related sales and leases.The broker provided the source with information about a Learjet that was being stored in Fort Lauderdale then said he would send one of his associates from Bogota,Colombia to Miami in order to finalize the purchase/lease, according to the complaint.
On March 31, an undercover agent met with Ricardo Lesmes-Noguera, who said he was sent to Miami by the broker to finalize the sale/lease of the Learjet, the complaint said.
A day later, Lesmes-Noguera, Abramovich, Maharaj met with the undercover agent at a business owned by Maharaj in Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport. During the meeting, Maharaj said he was the owner of the Learjet, according to the complaint. Abramovich and Lesmes-Noguera were at the meeting to allegedly, “broker the transaction in order to obtain a commission on the sale,” states the complaint.
During the meeting, the complaint says, the undercover agent and the confidential source discussed they were looking for an aircraft to transport shipments of cocaine. Maharaj allegedly agreed he would sell them his Learjet and lease them a 1977 Gulf Stream G-11 for them to use, according to the complaint.
Shortly after the meeting, the complaint says, Abramovich, in a telephone conversation, tried to expedite the transaction by offering to fly the undercover agent to Atlanta, Georgia to pick up cash meant to be used to pay for the planes. On the same call, Abramovich allegedly agreed to fly the agent and 50 kilograms cocaine to Atlanta, according to the complaint.
On April 3rd two agents met with the three at the airport and Maharaj had allegedly leased another aircraft to fly the cocaine to Georgia, as stated in the complaint. They allegedly planned to fly from Fort Lauderdale to Atlanta.
The agents arrived to the meeting with three suitcases containing “sham” cocaine, according to the complaint, and Ambramovich allegedly helped load the suitcases onto the plane.
Lesmes-Noguera, Abramovich, Maharaj were then arrested.