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Guatemalan Drug Smuggler Extradited to Tampa

FEB 08 (TAMPA, Fla.) –Mark R. Trouville, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Miami Field Division, and Robert E. O'Neill, United States Attorney for the Middle District of Florida, announced the extradition from Guatemala of Alma Lucrecia Hernandez-Preciado, a/k/a "La Tia," (40, Tecun Uman, Guatemala).  Extradition to Tampa was sought following the return of an indictment, on September 22, 2011, charging Hernandez-Preciado with violations of the Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Act.  Hernandez-Preciado was arrested in Guatemala on October 10, 2011.  If convicted, Hernandez-Preciado faces a maximum penalty of life in federal prison.

According to the indictment, Hernandez-Preciado participated in a conspiracy with others, including persons who were on board a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine.  Hernandez-Preciado is also charged with aiding and abetting others, including persons who were on board a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, with respect to the possession with the intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine.  The charges relate to Hernandez-Preciado's role in organizing the maritime smuggling of cocaine shipments, including a drug smuggling venture where the crew of a go-fast boat was interdicted by the United States Coast Guard off the coast of Guatemala on May 18, 2011, and 347 kilograms of cocaine were seized.

An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of the federal criminal laws, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.

This case was investigated by the Panama Express Strike Force, an OCDETF funded operation targeting maritime smuggling.  Participating agencies include the DEA Tampa District Office, including DEA's Guatemala City Country Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the United States Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS), the Joint Interagency Task Force - South (JIATFS) and the United States Marshals Service, with assistance from the government of Guatemala and Guatemalan law enforcement agencies. 

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