Federal law enforcement agents have accused the owner of a Broward County charter airplane service of conspiring to sell large amounts of cocaine that an informant said the pilot routinely smuggled into South Florida.
The informant told U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents that Jose Patin sold him multiple kilos of cocaine and heroin and that Patin smuggled the drugs into the country “through a variety of methods, including hidden in planes operated by Patin’s charter air business at Ft. Lauderdale Executive Airport in Broward County, Florida,” according to the DEA’s probable cause complaint filed in U.S. District Court on Dec. 7.
A grand jury last Monday indicted Patin, 66, on one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to sell five kilograms of cocaine and two counts of possessing with intent to sell more than 500 grams of cocaine. Patin is registered as the manager of Elite Air Transport LLC, which lists its address in Florida Department of State records as 1020 NW 62nd St., on the airport’s property.
Arrested along with Patin is Wilkin de Jesus Matos Feliz, 32, who also goes by the name Chu Chu. He was indicted on the same charges. Both men face life in prison if convicted. Patin and Feliz pleaded not guilty on Wednesday.
According to the DEA affidavit, the informant, under the direction of federal agents, arranged to meet with Patin at the Islander Cafe on Brickell Avenue in Miami on Nov. 15. While there, Patin agreed to give several kilograms of cocaine to the informant on consignment, according to the affidavit.
During the meeting, DEA agents recorded Patin speaking with the informant about the narcotics business, and Patin advised the informant to “take it slow,” to be careful selling the drugs. Patin, according to the affidavit, also told the informant he would be using code words when discussing business. For example, “boat” meant Patin wanted to meet at the Rusty Pelican on Key Biscayne. “Marina” meant Patin wanted to meet at his apartment on Brickell Key Drive, agents wrote in the complaint.
Agents say Patin then asked the informant if he knew anyone who was in the market for 20 kilograms of cocaine, and the informant answered yes. Patin said he had two kilograms for the informant, but not nearby. He gave the informant a prepaid phone on which to communicate about their new business arrangement, agents said.
Feliz then arrived at the Islander and Patin gave him key and told him to “go get the box,” according to the complaint. Feliz got into a Toyota Tundra pickup and drove to Patin’s apartment building. He went inside the building and drove to a parking garage near the Islander a few minutes later, agents said. Feliz gave Patin a box, and Patin opened the lid to show the informant two kilos of cocaine.
On Dec. 1, the informant and Patin spoke on a phone call recorded by the DEA. Patin and Feliz were in the Dominican Republic. Patin said he would be returning to the states the week of Dec. 5 and would collect the proceeds from the cocaine he consigned to the informant. Patin, according to the DEA complaint, also said he was putting together another load of cocaine to bring back to South Florida. The informant asked Patin for another kilo during the phone call.
On Dec. 6, the informant met with Patin and Feliz at the Islander. The DEA gave the informant a suitcase of “flash money.” During the meeting, which agents recorded, Patin asked the informant why it took so long to collect the money for the sale of the original two kilos. The informant answered it was due to the Thanksgiving holiday. Patin also asked where the money was, and the informant told him it was in the trunk of his car.
The men also agreed to another four-kilogram cocaine deal before the informant gave Patin the keys to his car. Patin and Feliz left the Islander and were about to enter the informant’s car parked in a nearby garage when DEA agents arrested the pair.
Agents then executed a search warrant on Patin’s apartment and a Toyota Highlander SUV parked in his designated parking spot. Inside the SUV, the agents found two boxes, each containing two kilograms of cocaine, according to the DEA complaint.