Office of the United States Attorney, John S. Leonardo
District of Arizona
July 11, 2012
KEY PLAYER IN DRUG TRAFFICKING ORGANIZATION EXTRADITED FROM MEXICO TO THE UNITED STATES
TUCSON, Ariz. – Gregorio Lopez-Rodriguez, 58, of Mexico, was extradited from the Republic of Mexico to the District of Arizona on Friday, July 6, 2012. On July 15, 2009, Lopez-Rodriguez was indicted by a federal grand jury in Tucson for conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute approximately 12,906 kilograms of marijuana. On Aug. 25, 2011, Lopez-Rodriguez was arrested in Mexico pursuant to a formal request by the United States. He was arraigned today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles R. Pyle. His trial is set for August 21, 2012, before U.S. District Judge Frank R. Zapata.
Lopez-Rodriguez allegedly was a high ranking member of a drug trafficking organization responsible for transporting multi-ton quantities of marijuana from Mexico into the United States from February 2007 to June 2008. During the course of the investigation, law enforcement seized in excess of 28,000 pounds of marijuana. The organization, utilizing tractor-trailers, brought multi-ton shipments of marijuana into the United States from Mexico via ports of entry located in Arizona. The shipments were then trans-loaded from the Mexican tractor-trailers to domestic tractor-trailers at various warehouses located in Nogales and Rio Rico, Ariz. The marijuana load was then driven to Tucson or Phoenix and eventually to cities throughout the United States.
Lopez-Rodriguez is one of 22 defendants indicted for their participation in the conspiracy. Nineteen defendants have resolved their cases short of trial and two defendants, Jesus COTA-Ibarra and Jose Pastor MENDEZ-Huerta, are fugitives believed to be in Mexico.
A conviction for conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute marijuana carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, a $4,000,000 fine, or both. In determining an actual sentence, Judge Zapata will consult the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide appropriate sentencing ranges. The judge, however, is not bound by those guidelines in determining a sentence.
An indictment is simply a method by which a person is charged with criminal activity and raises no inference of guilt. An individual is presumed innocent until competent evidence is presented to a jury that establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The arrest and extradition of Lopez-Rodriguez was a collaborative effort between the United States and Mexico. Specifically, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Marshals Service, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona, the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs, the U.S. Department of State, the Procuraduria General de la Republica (Mexico’s federal prosecuting agency), the Agencia Federal de Investigacion (Mexican federal police), and the Policia Estatal Investigadores (State police in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico) all worked together throughout the extradition process.
The prosecution is being handled by James T. Lacey and Joseph W. Hanley, Assistant U.S. Attorneys, District of Arizona, Tucson.
CASE NUMBER: CR-08-1208-TUC-FRZ
RELEASE NUMBER: 2012-169(Lopez-Rodriguez)
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For more information on the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona, visit http://www.justice.gov/usao/az/