Office of the United States Attorney, Ann Birmingham Scheel
District of Arizona
March 28, 2012
THREE MEXICAN NATIONALS PLEAD GUILTY TO AIDING AND ABETTING THE USE OF A FIREARM IN FURTHERANCE OF A DRUG TRAFFICKING OFFENSE
PHOENIX – On March 27, 2012, Juan Carlos Casas-Pacheco, 22, a Mexican national, pleaded guilty to Aid and Abet Use of Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Offense in federal district court in Phoenix. Casas-Pacheco’s co-defendants, Octavio Rivera-Mendez, 36, and Luis Enriquez Lizarraga-Ayala, 23, both Mexican nationals, pleaded guilty to the same charge on February 8, 2012, and March 6, 2012, respectively.
The indictment charged the defendants with Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute Marijuana, Aid and Abet Use of Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Offense, and Alien Unlawfully in Possession of Firearm and Ammunition. The indictment alleged that on Nov. 11, 2011, the defendants knowingly possessed and used two firearms, a Ruger Mini 30 Rifle, and a Smith and Wesson 38 Special, to further their conspiracy and scheme to possess and distribute marijuana by robbing it from other drug couriers traveling in and around the Vekol Valley.
A conviction for Aid and Abet Use of Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Offense carries a minimum penalty of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both. In determining an actual sentence for all three defendants, Judge Susan R. Bolton will consult the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide appropriate sentencing ranges. Judge Bolton, however, is not bound by those guidelines in determining a sentence.
Rivera-Mendez and Lizarraga-Ayala are scheduled to be sentenced on May 21, 2012. Casas-Pacheco is scheduled to be sentenced on June 25, 2012.
The investigation was conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The prosecution is being handled by Robert K. Lu, Assistant U.S. Attorney, Phoenix.
CASE NUMBER: CR-11-02276-001-SRB
RELEASE NUMBER: 2012-077(Casas-Pacheco)
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For more information on the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona, visit http://www.justice.gov/usao/az/