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The Nation

November 26, 1987

An imprisoned pilot testified in Jacksonville, Fla., that he began working for accused drug czar Carlos Lehder in 1977 and was paid $10,000 in cash while aboard a Fort Lauderdale-bound plane for smuggling cocaine. Walter Richard Blankenship said that although he helped Lehder smuggle cocaine beginning in late 1977, he did not meet the man he knew as "Uncle Joe Leon" until 1978 after he brought a duffel bag loaded with cocaine to the United States from a small Caribbean island. Lehder is charged in an 11-count indictment, returned in Jacksonville in 1981, with smuggling 3.3 tons of cocaine into the United States between 1978 and 1980. In court, Blankenship, the second pilot this week to testify in the trial, pointed toward Lehder and identified him as the man he knew as Uncle Joe.

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