10-18-05 - Seven current and former soldiers at Fort Sill Army Post in Lawton have agreed to plead guilty to conspiring to take bribes for transporting cocaine while wearing military uniforms, federal officials announced Tuesday.
The case is part of an FBI sting operation called "Operation Tarnished Star," said John C. Richter, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma.
Four of the seven defendants were members of the military when they transported cocaine at the request of undercover agents posing as drug traffickers, Richter said. Each of the defendants took part in at least three trips from Wichita Falls, Texas, to Oklahoma City, he said.
The charges allege each defendant was paid between $2,000 and $8,000 at the end of each trip, as well as for recruiting other soldiers to participate in the conspiracy.
Richter said the investigation is linked to a similar undercover FBI operation in Arizona entitled "Lively Green," which has led to federal charges against 32 current and former military personnel and law enforcement officers. That probe began in December 2001, while the case involving the Oklahoma defendants took place in 2004.
Both investigations are ongoing, and each defendant has agreed to cooperate with authorities in further prosecutions, Richter said.