Vessel Owner Pleads Guilty In Plot To Smuggle Workers, Drugs From Honduras To Louisiana

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A Pennsylvania man described by authorities as the lead defendant in a drug distribution and human smuggling case has pleaded guilty to federal crimes in Louisiana.

Court records show that Carl Allison, 47, of Pittsburgh pleaded guilty Thursday before U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon in New Orleans. Sentencing was scheduled for March 28. The U.S. Justice Department said in a statement that Allison, the fourth person to plead guilty in the case, faces a possible life sentence.

Prosecutors said Allison was the president and owner of a company that supplied immigrant labor for factories in the U.S. But, according to an indictment, Allison was involved in illegally smuggling Honduran nationals into the country to work illegally as part of a seagoing operation that also involved transporting cocaine.

Authorities found 23 Honduran nationals and about 24 kilograms (53 pounds) of cocaine aboard after a vessel owned by Allison became disabled last year in the Gulf of Mexico and was nearly capsized during a storm, according to an indictment. The vessel was traveling from Honduras to the small fishing village of Cocodrie, Louisiana, prosecutors said.

Allison pleaded guilty to charges of “conspiracy to unlawfully bring aliens to the United States for financial gain” and conspiracy to distribute cocaine, according to the Justice Department. Three Honduran nationals pleaded guilty in the scheme earlier this year, prosecutors said.