A 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) soldier has been arrested for allegedly attempting to smuggle nearly 90 pounds of cocaine from Colombia into the United States, according to an NBC News report.
The report, sourced to two unidentified U.S. defense officials, says Master Sgt. Daniel Gould was arrested Monday after U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents "found 40 kilograms of cocaine in two military backpacks on a military airplane in Colombia."
Contacted Saturday, Lt. Col. Robert Bockholt, director of public affairs at U.S. Army Special Operations Command, said Colombian authorities were alerted to the presence of the cocaine by an unidentified Special Operations Command soldier. But according to Bockholt, the cocaine never actually made it onto the aircraft.
The NBC News report indicated the plane departing from Colombia was headed for Eglin Air Force Base, and that Gould had returned to the United States before the cocaine was discovered. It was not clear how the cocaine was tied specifically to Gould, and Bockholt would not comment on that aspect of the NBC News report.
No information on the incident was available from the Drug Enforcement Administration on Saturday afternoon.
The NBC News report said Gould is assigned to the 7th Group. Maj. Kimbia Rey, public affairs officer at the 7th Group headquarters near Crestview, and Col. Patrick Colloton, commander of the 7th Group, referred additional questions to Army Special Operations Command.
Bockholt's official comments on the incident, which did not mention Gould by name, were contained in a two-sentence response to an inquiry from the Northwest Florida Daily News, the same statement provided to NBC News.
"We are aware of recent allegations concerning a U.S. soldier assigned under U.S. Army Special Operations Command for reportedly attempting to smuggle narcotics from Colombia into the U.S.," Bockholt said in the statement. "We are cooperating fully with law enforcement officials concerning this matter. In order to protect the integrity of the investigation and the rights of the individual, there is no additional information available for release at this time."
According to a 2010 Army news release, Gould was awarded a Silver Star, the nation's third-highest military honor, for actions during the 7th Group's 2007-08 deployment to Afghanistan. The 7th Group moved from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to Eglin in 2011.
-- This article is written by Jim Thompson from Northwest Florida Daily News, Fort Walton Beach and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.