In El Paso, a federal judge on Tuesday sentenced 55-year-old former Chihuahua, Mexico State Police Officer Mario De La O Lopez (aka “Flaco”) to 324 months in federal prison for his role in Sinaloa Cartel narcotics distribution operations. In addition to the prison term, United States District Judge Frank Montalvo also ordered that the defendant pay a $1,000 fine.
That announcement was made by United States Attorney John F. Bash; Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Kyle W. Williamson, El Paso Division; Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent in Charge Emmerson Buie, Jr., El Paso Division; and, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey C. Boshek, II, Dallas Division.
On June 15, 2017, Lopez pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organization statute (RICO). By pleading guilty, Lopez admitted to participating in the criminal enterprise from 2005 through 2009 by safeguarding and repackaging cocaine, weapons and bulk cash shipments.
“The sentencing of Mario De La O Lopez is yet another strike against the powerful and violent drug trafficking organizations whose reach stretches across international borders and directly threatens our communities in the United States”, stated DEA El Paso Division Special Agent in Charge Kyle W. Williamson. “We will continue to work together with our law enforcement partners on both sides of the border to pursue those who threaten our communities through the smuggling and distribution of illegal and dangerous drugs.”
“This sentencing is a result of the ongoing partnership and collaboration between the FBI, DEA and international partners to bring to justice members of the Sinaloa Cartel,” said FBI Special Agent Emmerson Buie, Jr. “This effort not only exemplifies our commitment to prevent drug war violence and criminal activity from poisoning the communities of El Paso and our sister city, Ciudad Juarez, but it also sends a clear message that we will relentlessly pursue and prosecute the leaders and members of these violent drug enterprises.”
“When agencies work in concert, criminals cannot victimize residents and communities in the United States then hide behind shifting geographic jurisdictions,” stated ATF Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey C. Boshek, II. “Leveraging partnerships between ATF and federal, state and local agencies in the pursuit of firearms and narcotics traffickers that fuel underground markets and violent crime ensures the most-appropriate prosecution and maximum sanctions for the public we serve.”
Lopez was one of 24 high ranking Sinaloa Cartel leaders, including Joaquin Guzman Loera (aka “El Chapo”) and Ismael Zambada Garcia (aka “Mayo”), indicted on federal racketeering charges in April 2012. To date, only De La O Lopez has pleaded guilty to federal charges in connection with the investigation into this criminal enterprise. Three defendants--Gabino Salas-Valenciano, Jesus Rodrigo Fierro-Ramirez and Emigdio Martinez, Jr.--have died since the indictment was returned in 2012. Twenty (20) other defendants remain under indictment. Trial is scheduled for November 2018.
This investigation resulted in the seizure of hundreds of kilograms of cocaine, thousands of pounds of marijuana in cities throughout the United States. Law Enforcement also took possession of millions of dollars in drug proceeds which were destined to be returned to the Cartel in Mexico. Agent and Officers likewise seized hundreds of weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition intended to be smuggled into Mexico to assist the Cartel’s battle to take control of Juarez and the local drug trafficking corridors.
The DEA, FBI, and ATF together with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement –Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI), United States Border Patrol, Customs and Border Protection (CBP), United States Marshals Service, El Paso Police Department, El Paso Sheriff’s Office, and the Texas Department of Public Safety investigated this case.
Department of Justice
Office of the U.S. Attorney
Western District of Texas