Guatemalan Pseudoephedrine Traffickers Plead Guilty
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Edgar Leonel Estrada-Morales, 56, of Guatemala City, Guatemala, pleaded guilty today to conspiring to distribute pseudoephedrine for unlawful importation into the United States and to aid and abet the manufacture of methamphetamine.
Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Derek S. Maltz, Special Agent In Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Special Operations Division, made the announcement after the plea was accepted by United States District Judge T.S. Ellis, III.
Estrada-Morales, along with his nephew, Victor Estrada-Paredes, were indicted on February 3, 2011, by a federal grand jury on a charge of conspiring to distribute pseudoephedrine (a chemical used in the manufacture of methamphetamine) for unlawful importation into the United States and to aid and abet the manufacture of 500 grams or more of methamphetamine. Estrada-Paredes previously pleaded guilty to the indictment on April 25, 2013, before Judge Ellis. Both Estrada-Morales and Estrada-Paredes face a maximum penalty of life in prison when they are sentenced on August 2, 2013, and July 19, 2013, respectively.
In a statement of facts filed with his plea agreement, Estrada-Morales admitted to selling nearly 5,000 pseudoephedrine pills to an individual whom he believed was involved in a methamphetamine production operation based in Houston, Texas. This individual was, in reality, a DEA cooperating witness. Estrada-Morales also introduced this individual to his nephew, Estrada-Paredes, who was also involved in this pseudoephedrine trafficking operation. According to the indictment, Estrada-Morales sold pseudoephedrine to different groups, including the “La Familia” Mexican drug cartel that sold methamphetamine in the United States.
This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration. Assistant United States Attorney Michael P. Ben’Ary, of the Office’s National Security and International Crime Unit, is prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/vae. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.vaed.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.uspci.uscourts.gov.