Jury Convicts Virgin Islands Man Of Multi-Kilogram Cocaine Conspiracy

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FILE PHOTO: The U.S. Department of Justice Building is pictured

Orlando, Florida – United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg announces that a federal jury has found Avery Lans (55, Virgin Islands) guilty of conspiracy to distribute cocaine. Lans faces a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years, and up to life, in federal prison. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for December 5, 2022. Lans and his conspirator, Wayne Ellsworth Stout, Jr. (35, Miami), were indicted on June 15, 2022. Stout pleaded guilty on August 19, 2022. 

According to the evidence presented at trial, on June 1, 2022, Stout drove from Miami to Orlando and retrieved a grey and teal duffle bag from a storage locker in the Edgewater area. Agents from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) were conducting surveillance on Stout as he traveled from Miami to Orlando and as Stout left the storage locker and headed to the parking lot of a restaurant in the Winter Park area. At approximately 1:45 p.m., Lans arrived and received the duffle bag during a short, 30-second meeting. After circling the block, Lans led HSI surveillance agents to the corner of Lee and Wymore, where Lans abruptly turned in an attempt to escape while dropping the duffle bag out of his passenger side window. After a brief, high-speed chase, Lans was detained and the duffle bag was retrieved. The bag contained five kilograms of cocaine, wrapped in black tape with a marking on it:      

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When HSI agents searched the storage locker in Edgewater, they located three coolers containing 109 kilograms of cocaine, some of which contained the same black and gold marking as the five-kilogram bricks that Lans was carrying: 

A kilogram of cocaine was estimated to be worth at least approximately $27,000. Lans was carrying $135,000 worth of cocaine at the time he attempted to flee. The storage locker contained cocaine valued at nearly $3 million. 

This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, with assistance from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, the Orlando Police Department, the Sunrise Police Department, and the Golden Beach Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Dana E. Hill.