East Bay Resident Found Guilty of Attempting to Help Smuggle Cocaine Through Bay Area Airports
SAN FRANCISCO - A jury found Lemack Bellot guilty of two counts of attempting to aid and abet possession with intent to distribute cocaine in a scheme to smuggle drugs through San Francisco International Airport (SFO), announced United States Attorney Stephanie M. Hinds and Drug Enforcement Special Agent in Charge Wade R. Shannon. The verdicts follow a week-long trial before the Honorable Vince Chhabria, United States District Judge.
At trial, the government presented evidence that Bellot, 42, of Hayward, Calif., attempted to facilitate the smuggling of cocaine through SFO in May 2018 and in November 2018. Unbeknownst to Bellot, the shipments were not actually cocaine because he was negotiating with a confidential source (CS) working for the DEA. The DEA was investigating Bellot based on information that Bellot had been paying airport employees to allow drugs to be smuggled past airport security.
The evidence at trial showed that over an eight-month period between March and November of 2018, Bellot made a variety of arrangements to help the CS smuggle cocaine through SFO. The CS was posing as an Atlanta-based drug trafficker who would fly to the Bay Area to buy cocaine and needed a quick way to transport it back to Atlanta for distribution.
The CS initially met with Bellot at the Fogline Sports Bar and Grill in Hayward, Calif., a bar owned by Bellot . The two men discussed smuggling drugs through Bay Area airports, and Bellot told the CS that he used to run “bricks” or kilograms of cocaine from the Bay Area airports to cities across the country until his airport contact was arrested by law enforcement. Bellot also told the CS that although he had taken a break from airport smuggling following the arrest of his airport associate, he had recently found someone new to help him smuggle drugs through SFO and the Oakland International Airport.
Bellot and the CS agreed to use Bellot’s new smuggling connection and remained in contact over the next eight months as Bellot set up various schemes to smuggle cocaine through the airports.
In February 2019, a federal grand jury indicted Bellot for attempting to aid and abet the possession with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846, 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(B)(ii)(II), and attempting to aid and abet the possession with intent to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846, 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(A)(ii)(II). The jury found Bellot guilty of both counts.
Judge Chhabria has not yet set a date for Bellot’s sentencing hearing. Bellot faces a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison, and a fine of $250,000, plus restitution, for the first count and a maximum sentence of life in prison, and a fine of $500,000 for the second count. Bellot also faces a term of supervised release following imprisonment, restitution, and additional assessments. Bellot’s sentence will be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the sentencing factors set forth by statute at 18 U.S.C. § 3553.
This investigation and prosecution is part of the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement (OCDETF) Section, which identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.
The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the DEA.