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Drug smuggler pleads guilty during trial


Anthony J. "Tony Dean" DeAntoni, one of the American ringleaders of a Colombian-fed cocaine and marijuana smuggling and distribution ring, has pleaded guilty in mid-trial to federal drug and tax charges.

DeAntoni, who smuggled hundreds of kilograms of cocaine into the United States from the Medellin drug cartel, pleaded guilty this week in U.S. District Court in Baltimore to operating a continuing criminal enterprise and evading taxes on $159,000 in illicit drug income in 1985.

Prosecutors Andrew G.W. Norman and Lisa M. Griffin said they will recommend an 11-year, no-parole prison term for DeAntoni, who could have faced life imprisonment without parole on the continuing-criminal-enterprise count if he had been convicted by the trial jury.

Senior Judge Herbert N. Maletz set no sentencing date.

Jose Antonio Valbuena, DeAntoni's Colombian cocaine source, pleaded guilty to conspiracy here last week. He faces a 15-year prison sentence. Both DeAntoni and Valbuena face other federal charges in Tampa, Fla., prosecutors said.

The case here is part of a long-running series of federal prosecutions in which more than 50 people have been convicted of drug charges tied to the cocaine-marijuana distribution in network of Steven A. Silvers and Marshall L. Jones in Western Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia.

Prosecutors said DeAntoni and Alan Raul Rudd, a native Colombian and alleged international drug smuggler, arranged to fly 113 kilograms of cocaine and 250 pounds of marijuana from Colombia to Miami in July 1985.

DeAntoni and Rudd also arranged a 482-kilogram shipment of Colombian cocaine in August 1985, but 221 kilograms of it either were seized or stolen in the Bahamas and DeAntoni lost a full ton of marijuana in another smuggling deal that went awry in the Bahamas in 1984.

DeAntoni's plea left only two defendants still on trial among eight charged here. One Colombian defendant, Oscar Federixo Graciano, is a federal fugitive.

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