Maria Chapa Lopez Announces Resignation As United States Attorney For The Middle District Of Florida
Tampa, Florida - After 21 years with the Department of Justice, and 32 years’ government service, United States Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez will resign as chief law enforcement officer for the Middle District of Florida (MDFL) on February 27, 2021.
“Serving as the United States Attorney for the MDFL these past three years has been my highest honor and, serving the United States for these last 32 years has been my highest privilege,” said Chapa Lopez. “It has been my honor to serve with a fantastic group of federal, state and local law enforcement partners. Together, we have done great work to protect our communities here in the MDFL. It has also been my greatest honor to work with the tremendously talented group of AUSAs and staff of the U.S. Attorney’s Office here in the MDFL. Thank you all for your partnership and support these last three years. My respect for each and every one of you is immeasurable. Team MDFL is the best!”
Chapa Lopez also said, “I want to thank Senator Marco Rubio and former Senator Bill Nelson for their support and confidence in me to lead this office. I am grateful to Attorney General Jeff Sessions for trusting me with this position when he appointed me interim U.S. Attorney, and to Attorney General Bill Barr for his trust in my abilities when he asked me to be on the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee.”
U.S. Attorney Chapa Lopez came to the job with a significant amount of experience that prepared her to lead the MDFL. Previously, she served on active duty as a United States Army Officer, achieving the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. In April of 2000, she joined the USAO-MDFL as an Assistant United States Attorney as a narcotics prosecutor, working to dismantle transnational drug trafficking organizations. Immediately prior to serving as U.S. Attorney, Chapa Lopez served as DOJ Deputy Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico, working closely with Mexican Justice and Law Enforcement counterparts, as well as other international stakeholders, to disrupt cross-border crime.
“Maria Chapa Lopez rendered good and faithful service as United States Attorney for the Middle District of Florida. In her dealings with the Court, Ms. Lopez always represented the United States with the utmost professionalism. The Court wishes her well in her future endeavors” said Timothy J. Corrigan, Chief Judge, Middle District of Florida.
DEA Special Agent in Charge Keith Weis commends USA Chapa Lopez for her outstanding leadership. “During her tenure, she has supported all the agencies focused on reducing supplies of dangerous drugs such as fentanyl, heroin, methamphetamines, diverted prescription drugs, cocaine and related violence impacting our Florida Communities,” said SAC Weis. “She has been instrumental in dismantling significant transnational criminal organizations narcotics smuggling and money laundering operations from South America to shores of the United States. USA Chapa Lopez has been extremely dedicated to enforcing the rule of law with the tireless goal of helping those communities and families adversely affected by illicit drug distribution. The DEA wishes USA Chapa Lopez the best in her next endeavors, she is an invaluable leader and friend who will be greatly missed by law enforcement.”
“U.S. Attorney Maria Chapa López has been a quintessential partner in combatting violent crime throughout the Middle District Florida for more than 20 years. Mrs. Chapa López tirelessly worked with the ATF Tampa Field Division to investigate and aggressively prosecute some of the most violent offenders in the Middle District. On behalf of the women and men of the ATF Tampa Field Division, I thank Mrs. Chapa López for her service to the United States. Her leadership as United States Attorney made our communities safer. You will be missed,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Craig W. Saier.
“Under the leadership of United States Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez, the law enforcement community across the Middle District of Florida has become more united and collaborative. Her commitment to protect the most vulnerable in our communities as well as the way she led her office to take on emerging threats is just part of the legacy she leaves. We wish you all the best in your next chapter Maria.” said Kevin Sibley, Acting Special Agent in Charge for Homeland Security Investigations.
“It has truly been an honor and a privilege working alongside US Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez over the past three years protecting and defending the Middle District of Florida,” said Sheriff Chad Chronister, Hillsborough County. “I am saddened to see her leave, but truly grateful for the dedication she has put into causes that affect our Hillsborough County residents. Through our partnership, we have worked to combat issues of both opioid abuse and human trafficking throughout our state, bringing drug dealers responsible for fatal overdoses to justice and putting behind bars those who seek to buy or profit off of the exchange of another individual’s body for sex. I look forward to continuing the work we have started together as she moves on to the next step in, what is sure to be, a continuously rewarding career in service.”
“The St. Petersburg Police Department has enjoyed a cooperative and mutually supportive relationship with our valued criminal justice partners at the Department of Justice, led by U.S. Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez,” said Chief Anthony Holloway, St. Petersburg Police Department. “The DOJ is staffed with tremendously talented members and I am proud of our collective achievements and the significant progress that has been made toward improving the lives of individuals in our community through better public safety and police protection and most recently for the support of the Tampa Bay Human Trafficking Task Force. I look forward to the opportunity to work together someday soon and seeing her many future accomplishments.”
“U.S. Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez has truly made Manatee County a safer place to live,” said Sheriff Rick Wells. “Under her leadership, several high-profile drug dealers and gang members have been removed from our community. I will be forever indebted to her and the commitment she made to prosecute those responsible for distributing fentanyl throughout Manatee County. She will be greatly missed, and I wish her all the best in her future endeavors.”
“We’ve had a productive and strong working relationship with U.S. Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez. Her reputation is one of being committed to her work and has shown through her accomplishments during her appointment. We are grateful to have had the opportunity to work with her,” said Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, Pinellas County.
“Maria Chapa Lopez led undeniable efforts that resulted in fewer victims of crime and ensuring the safety of our neighborhoods,” said Chief Brian Dugan, Tampa Police Department. “Although she will be missed, our law enforcement agents are better prepared and trained to take on any criminal element due to her years of dedicated service.”
“U.S. Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez has done an outstanding job protecting the citizens of the Middle District of Florida,” said Sheriff Christopher Nocco, Pasco County. “From terrorism to illegal pharmaceuticals, violent crime, and human trafficking, her leadership to prosecute criminals and build coalitions worked to make Pasco, along with all of Tampa Bay, a safer community.”
“Our relationship with the Middle District of Florida is paramount to the cycle of success needed to combat and counter transnational organized crime. I thank my colleague, Ms. Maria Chapa Lopez, for her professionalism and dutiful service as US Attorney for the past three years, and deeply value her leadership and gracious friendship. We look forward to continuing our collaboration with her successor and I wish Maria the very best,” said Rear Adm. Eric C. Jones, Seventh District Commander.
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office is a key partner with U.S. Probation. Under Maria’s leadership, the communication between our agencies has flourished. The U.S. Attorney’s Office has been a responsive and reliable partner in our promotion of the fair administration of justice,” said Joe Collins, Chief U.S. Probation Officer.
“Maria has been a dedicated partner and a trusted ally who has served the Middle District of Florida with honor and distinction,” said State Attorney Melissa Nelson of the Fourth Judicial Circuit. “She undoubtedly will continue to do great things in her community.”
Upon the U.S. Attorney’s resignation, Karin Hoppmann, who served as Ms. Chapa Lopez’s First Assistant U.S. Attorney, will become Acting United States Attorney for the Middle District of Florida by virtue of the Vacancies Reform Act. Ms. Hoppmann becomes Acting U.S. Attorney for up to 300 days, and she will serve in that position until such time as an Interim U.S. Attorney is appointed or the President nominates and the United States Senate confirms a new United States Attorney.
Link to summary of highlights of the USAO MDFL’s work during U.S. Attorney Chapa Lopez’s tenure.
Department of Justice
Office of the U.S. Attorney
Middle District of Florida