Coke-plane fugitive pleads to escape, gets more prison

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A Pennsylvania drug dealer and former fugitive whose crash landing of a cocaine-filled plane a decade ago in Wheeling, W.Va., led to West Virginia’s largest narcotics haul pleaded guilty this week to escaping from a federal prison camp in that state.

Eugene Cobbs, 43, admitted in U.S. District Court in Clarksburg, W.Va., that he walked away from the minimum-security facility in Morgantown, W.Va., last year and fled to Mexico. He was sentenced to 14 months in a more secure prison, to be served after he completes his 151-month sentence on a 2010 conviction for narcotics dealing.

Mr. Cobbs, who is originally from Philadelphia, had twice led U.S. marshals on manhunts that ended in Mexico.

The first came after he crashed his private plane at the Wheeling airport on a winter night in 2004 while flying from California to Pennsylvania. He ran away, leaving behind 525 pounds of cocaine worth $24 million.

He fled to Mexico for four years before the marshals arrested him in 2008 in Texas.

Sentenced to prison, he was transferred in 2013 from a secure lockup in New Jersey to the prison camp because of good behavior.

In April last year, he walked away while working on a cleaning crew in the parking lot. According to the U.S. Marshals Service, he caught a cab to a grocery store, where he received a Western Union money transfer from Jamie Angel Clayton, who is under indictment on charges of aiding the escape.

Mr. Cobbs took the cab to a bus depot, where he picked up a ticket that Ms. Clayton bought for him, and then he took a bus to Philadelphia.

He fled again into Mexico, where he lived with a girlfriend. The marshals again tracked him down there with the help of Mexican authorities and in June returned him to the U.S.

Ms. Clayton is scheduled for trial next month.


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