NEWARK, N.J. – A Union County, New Jersey, man was sentenced today to 19 months in prison for his role in a scheme to use drones to smuggle contraband, including cell phones and tobacco, into the federal correctional facility at Fort Dix, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced.
Johansel Moronta, 29, of Linden, New Jersey, a former inmate at Fort Dix, previously pleaded guilty by videoconference before U.S. District Judge Madeline Cox Arleo to an information charging him with one count of possessing and obtaining contraband while in prison. Moronta, who had been released from custody several months after the offense occurred and was on federal supervised release thereafter, also pleaded guilty to violating the terms of his supervised release.
Another former federal inmate, Jason Arteaga-Loayza, previously pleaded guilty to his participation in the scheme as well as to distributing narcotics and was sentenced in September 2021 to 43 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Susan D. Wigenton. Two other men, Adrian Goolcharran, aka “Adrian Ahoda,” aka “Adrian Ajoda,” aka “Adrian Ajodha,” and Nicolo Denichilo, also have been charged with participating in the scheme to use drones to smuggle contraband into Fort Dix prison.
According to the documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Moronta, an inmate at Fort Dix from April 2018 to March 2019, participated in multiple drone deliveries of contraband into Fort Dix while incarcerated. Between October 2018 and June 2019, Arteaga-Loayza arranged for Goolcharran, with Denichilo’s assistance, to fly drones over Fort Dix and drop packages of contraband – including cell phones, cell phone accessories, tobacco, weight loss supplements, eyeglasses – into the prison, where Moronta took possession of the contraband and helped sell it to inmates for a profit.
Moronta admitted in court that, on Oct. 30, 2018, he received a bag dropped by a drone onto the roof of a housing unit at FCI Fort Dix which contained contraband tobacco, cellphone chargers and charging cables. Prison officials recovered that bag which contained 127 bags of Bugler tobacco, 10 cell phone chargers and 10 USB charging cables. Moronta also admitted to possessing a contraband cell phone on that date, which he had used to coordinate the drone drop.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Arleo sentenced Moronta to one year of supervised release.
U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited agents of the U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General, Cyber Investigations Office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Keith A. Bonanno; the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations, Detachment 307, under the direction of Superintendent Nicholas Kaplan; and the U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General, Northeast Region, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Joseph Harris, with the investigation leading to today’s sentencing.
He also thanked Federal Bureau of Prisons personnel at Fort Dix; special agents of the FBI; special agents of the U.S. Attorney’s Office; and officers with the Pemberton Borough Police Department; the Pemberton Township Police Department; and Chesterfield Township Police Department, for their assistance.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark J. McCarren of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Special Prosecutions Division in Newark.
The charges and allegations contained in the criminal complaints issued against the remaining defendants are merely accusations, and they are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.