June 03–An El Paso trucking company owner was sentenced to more than two decades in prison Friday in a marijuana smuggling operation.
David Lopez, 56, was sentenced to more than 24 years in prison after he was convicted by a jury in January on one count each of conspiracy to possess over 1,000 kilograms of marijuana and possession of over 100 kilograms of marijuana.
Lopez also was fined $50,000 and must forfeit proceeds and property derived from his drug smuggling organization, including $2.4 million, various tractor-trailers, personal vehicles and his home, U.S. Attorney’s Office officials said.
Lopez was accused of transporting marijuana from El Paso to cities throughout the United States. The drug smuggling operation ran from August 2001 until August 2015, according to court documents and U.S. Attorney’s Office officials.
“With this conviction, DEA and our law enforcement partners are working together to have a positive impact at the local level,” Will R. Glaspy, special agent in charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration El Paso Division, said in a statement. “We are sending a strong and unified message that drug dealing, at all levels, will not be tolerated, and, in turn, we are making our communities safer.”
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Commercial tractor-trailers driven by Lopez and other hired drivers were used to transport the drugs, officials said.
DEA agents connected significant marijuana seizures in Kansas, Alamogordo, Abilene and Sierra Blanca, Texas, to Lopez’s operation, officials said.
Agents seized more than 3,300 kilograms of marijuana.
Lopez attempted to hire a law enforcement informant and an undercover officer to smuggle the marijuana for him, officials said.
Lopez also was stopped by law enforcement in Clark County in 2010 where officers allegedly found $130,000 in his suitcase.
Officials said that Lopez denied any knowledge of the cash, but a search of his home conducted by law enforcement officers in 2015 found a safe belonging to Lopez with $53,000 in cash that was packaged similarly to the money found in 2010.
El Paso County records show that Lopez had been owner of Lopez Trucking Co., Triple S.S.S. Logistic, Evolution Rock Transport and other companies.
The investigation into Lopez’s operation included the DEA, the El Paso and Anthony, Texas, police departments, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, the U.S. Border Patrol, Homeland Security Investigations and Kansas law enforcement agencies.
Aaron Martinez may be reached at 546-6249; firstname.lastname@example.org; @AMartinez31 on Twitter.
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