EGLIN AFB — An investigation into alleged cocaine smuggling from Colombia by an Army 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) soldier has not stopped following the soldier's indictment on charges of conspiring in trafficking the drug, according to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration office in Miami.
Master Sgt. Daniel Gould was detained by authorities on Aug. 13 and indicted last month by a federal grand jury on two counts of conspiring to smuggle cocaine. Gould entered pleas of not guilty to both charges in his initial appearance Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Pensacola. His trial is slated to begin with jury selection on the morning of Nov. 13.
"Ours is still ongoing," DEA spokeswoman Anne-Judith Lambert said Wednesday when asked whether Gould's pending trial had ended the smuggling probe. In addition to the DEA, the investigation has involved the Army's Criminal Investigation Division and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Florida.
Asked for specifics on the ongoing investigation, Lambert demurred.
"We're still not saying anything," she said.
Gould will not be in custody in advance of his trial, according to a Tuesday court order. There are, however, a number of restrictions attached to the court order, including location monitoring. The court order also required Gould to surrender his passport.
The two-count indictment returned against Gould last month indicates other people were involved in the alleged cocaine smuggling. Both counts allege Gould "did knowingly and willfully combine, conspire, confederate, and agree with other persons to distribute" a controlled substance.
According to court documents, the Sept. 18 federal grand jury indictment against Gould was sealed for a time because Gould could not immediately be located.
Gould was detained by authorities on Aug. 13 after two "heavy bags" — punching bags used by boxers in training — were intercepted at the U.S. Embassy in Colombia before they were to be loaded onto a plane bound for the United States. The bags contained a total of nearly 90 pounds of cocaine, with a street value in the millions of dollars. It is not clear whether they were bound for a civilian or military aircraft, but the 7th Group is based at Eglin AFB.
It remains unclear specifically how the bags were tied to Gould, who was back in the United States when the cocaine was discovered. Colombia is part of the 7th Group's area of responsibility, but Gould was on vacation — not on military duty — at the time of the alleged incident.
Gould remained free after his initial detention, apparently as he took some role in the investigation. In a late August interview, Col. Patrick Colloton, commander of the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), said Gould was, at that time, under the eye of civilian and military authorities.
But in a motion requesting that the Sept. 18 indictment be sealed, the U.S. Attorney's Office noted that "(t)he current whereabouts of the defendant are unknown and the public revelation of the indictment could severely hamper law enforcement's ability to locate and apprehend the defendant to answer the charges."
Gould was present with his attorney in U.S. District Court on Tuesday. He is being represented by Pensacola attorney John Wilkins, who did not immediately return a Wednesday phone call seeking comment on the case.