News and Press Releases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

THURSDAY - June 10, 2010

RALEIGH - United States Attorney George E.B. Holding announced that in federal court on June 8, 2010, United States District Judge James C. Dever, III, sentenced LUIS HERNANDEZ-ESPINOZA, 39, to 312 months’ imprisonment on count one and 240 months on count two with each sentence to run concurrently, followed by five years supervised release.

A Federal Grand Jury returned a Criminal Indictment on August 28, 2009. On January 13, 2010, HERNANDEZ-ESPINOZA pled guilty to conspiring to possess with the intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine (count one) and illegal re-entry into the United States by an aggravated alien (count two).

The investigation showed that ESPINOZA was responsible for distributing more than 30 kilograms of cocaine from December, 2007, until July, 2009. On July 2, 2009, ESPINOZA and a co-defendant sold two kilograms of cocaine to an agent of the government in the Old Navy parking lot in Wilmington, North Carolina. New Hanover County Sheriff’s detectives arrested ESPINOZA and searched the van that had been used to deliver the cocaine. An electronic hidden compartment was found by the detectives and members of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Inside the compartment was an additional kilogram of cocaine. ESPINOZA has twice previously been convicted of crimes in federal court.

This case was brought as a part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) Operation entitled Don Quoxite, investigating importers and multi-level distributors of cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin, Ecstasy and gang activity associated with this distribution. This organization is responsible for the importation and distribution of more than 230 kilograms of cocaine, more than 65 kilograms of crack cocaine, 3 kilograms of heroin, 20,000 Ecstacy pills and several kilograms of marijuana into Eastern North Carolina since 2003. To date, 35 people have been sentenced in federal court as a part of this operation.

Investigation of this OCEDTF case is being conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms; the Federal Bureau of Investigations Safe Streets Task Force (Wilmington); the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations; the Wilmington Police Department; the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office; the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office; the Duplin County Sheriff’s Office; the Pender County Sheriff’s Office; the Holly Ridge Police Department; the Top Sail Police Department and the Surf City Police Department. Special Assistant United States Attorney Timothy Severo represents the government. Mr. Severo is a prosecutor with the New Hanover District Attorney’s Office. District Attorney Ben David has assigned him to the United States Attorney’s office to prosecute federal Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force criminal matters. This has been made possible by a grant funded by the Governor’s Crime Commission and the New Hanover County Commissioners.

News releases are available on the U. S. Attorney’s web page at www.usdoj.gov/usao/nce within 48 hours of release.

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