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Passaic County Private Jet Pilot Sentenced to 13 Years in Prison for Cocaine Trafficking

Passaic County

TRENTON, N.J. – A Passaic County, man was sentenced today to 156 months in prison for trafficking hundreds of kilograms of cocaine into New Jersey and New York and then laundering over $10.2 million in cash drug proceeds, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

Official say, Khamraj Lall, 52, of Ringwood, New Jersey, was found guilty previously by a federal jury in Trenton of all eight counts of a superseding indictment, including counts charging him with conspiracy to distribute cocaine, money laundering, structuring monetary instruments, and conspiracy to commit money laundering and structuring. U.S. District Judge Anne E. Thompson imposed the sentence today in Trenton federal court.

According to documents filed in the case and the evidence at trial:

From April 2011 through November 2014, Lall, a private pilot, smuggled hundreds of kilograms of cocaine from Guyana to New Jersey and New York on his privately owned jet aircraft and then laundered the proceeds.

Lall, who owed a private jet charter business called Exec Jet Club based in Gainesville, Florida, used the proceeds of his cocaine empire to purchase jet planes, houses, and cars. He also paid over $2 million in cash stuffed into suitcases to a Florida contractor to build an airplane hangar in Guyana.

Over a 3-½ year period, Lall also made (or had others make) 1,287 cash deposits totaling approximately $7.5 million into more than 20 different bank accounts in New Jersey and New York, much of it in $20 bills. In order to avoid detection and circumvent bank reporting laws, all 1,287 deposits were for amounts less than $10,000.

In November 2014, Lall was flying one of his jets from the U.S. to Guyana and stopped in Puerto Rico to refuel. An outbound search of the plane uncovered $470,000 in cash stuffed into a suitcase hidden in the tail of the plane, and another $150,000 in cash hidden under a seat.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Thompson sentenced Lall to five years of supervised release. The Court previously ordered Lall to forfeit his interest in two jet airplanes, two airplane hangars, multiple properties, a Lexus SUV, among other property traceable to his crimes. The Court also entered a money judgment against Lall for $9.3 million.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents and task force officers of IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge John R. Tafur; the Morristown, New Jersey, police department, under the direction of Chief Peter Demnitz; special agents and staff of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Brian Michael; the Drug Enforcement Administration-Rochester, New York, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James J. Hunt; the Federal Aviation Administration, Law Enforcement Assistance Program; and U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations Center under the direction of Richard T. Booth, with the investigation leading to today’s sentencing.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jonathan M. Peck and Thomas S. Kearney of the Criminal Division in Newark.