News Release
February 18, 2010
Contact: Special Agent Ramona Sanchez
Number: 602-664-5725

Armed Career Drug Trafficker Sentenced to More Than
24 Years in Prison

FEB 18 -- PHOENIX, Ariz. – Elizabeth W. Kempshall, DEA Special Agent in Charge and Dennis K. Burke, U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona announced that Eleazar Gurrola-Iriarte, 32, of Culiacan, Sinaloa in the Republic of Mexico, and Oscar Ruben Gonzalez-Lopez, 36, of La Llama, Sinaloa in the Republic of Mexico, were sentenced Tuesday by U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow to a 292-month term of imprisonment and a 210-month term of imprisonment, respectively. Gurrola-Iriarte pleaded guilty on August 24, 2009 to Conspiracy to Possess Methamphetamine with Intent To Distribute. Gonzalez-Lopez pleaded guilty to the same charge on August 18, 2009.

“For years, Eleazar Gurrola-Iriarte operated a methamphetamine trafficking organization with impunity. Today’s sentencing closes the door on a career criminal who felt untouchable and beyond the reach of aggressive, cooperative law enforcement,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Elizabeth W. Kempshall. DEA and our law enforcement partners stand firmly to ensure that criminals who peddle in these poisons and wreak havoc in our communities will never escape from facing the consequences of their criminal activities.”

“These lengthy sentences will put two career criminals out of commission for a generation,” said Dennis K. Burke, U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona. “This demonstrates our unending resolve to remove meth dealers in Arizona. We are grateful to the DEA for their excellent investigative work that led to these sentences.”

Prior to his arrest in December 2008, Gurrola-Iriarte was one of the leaders of a large methamphetamine trafficking organization with operations in Mexico and Phoenix. Gurrola-Iriarte received large shipments of high-purity methamphetamine from Mexico, and then diluted the drug prior to its distribution. Before his arrest, Gonzalez-Lopez was responsible for supplying the diluted methamphetamine mixtures to the organization’s delivery drivers, who would then distribute the substances to the organization’s customers in and around Phoenix. When arrested, the defendants and their co-conspirators were in possession of approximately 2.7 pounds of methamphetamine; four rifles (three were semi-automatic assault rifles), one shotgun, two handguns, and a bullet-proof vest; more than $75,000 in U.S. currency; scales; and multiple drug ledgers.

In its Sentencing Memorandum, the government alleged that Gurrola-Iriarte was a career criminal with a long history of run-ins with the law, mostly relating to drug possession or distribution, and the defendant admitted in 2001 that he had never known lawful employment. The government claimed that throughout the course of his criminal career, Gurrola-Iriarte had gone by approximately 10 different names, used three different dates of birth, and possessed multiple forged American identification documents. The government also stated that, before sentencing, Gurrola-Iriarte purported to “cooperate” with the government in an effort to reduce his prison sentence–but, when meeting with government officials, Gurrola-Iriarte repeatedly lied and refused to provide any information of value.

The investigation in this case was conducted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. The prosecution was handled by Ann Birmingham Scheel, First Assistant United States Attorney, and Kory A. Langhofer, Assistant United States Attorney, District of Arizona, Phoenix.

 

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