News and Press Releases

Leaders of Guatemalan Meth Precursor Trafficking Organization Indicted

Men Allegedly Tried to Hire Assassin to Murder DEA Agents, Embassy Employee

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 3, 2011

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – The alleged leaders of one of the most significant pseudoephedrine trafficking organizations in Guatemala were indicted today of conspiring to distribute the meth precursor to organizations seeking to traffic methamphetamine in the United States, including “La Familia” Mexican drug cartel.

            Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Derek Maltz, Special Agent in Charge for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)’s Special Operations Division, made the announcement. 

            “Today’s indictment accuses alleged international drug traffickers of helping Mexican drug cartels make meth that is sold in cities throughout the United States,” said U.S. Attorney MacBride. “We’re committed to going after those who support the deadly meth trade in the United States no matter where they operate. The ruthless nature of the meth trade is apparent in this indictment, which alleges the men sought to hire an assassin to murder two DEA agents and a U.S. embassy employee.”

            “Today’s indictment shines a bright light on a major source of methamphetamine in the United States,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Maltz. “These traffickers are responsible for poisoning countless Americans by dealing in massive quantities of the precursor chemicals and equipment used to make methamphetamine. We are committed to aggressively pursuing these dangerous individuals, ending their careers, and bringing them to justice.”

            Edgar Leonel Estrada-Morales, 54; Erick Leonel Estrada-Reyes, 27; and Victor Emilio Estrada-Paredes, 27 – all from Guatemala City, Guatemala – were indicted by a federal grand jury of conspiring to distribute pseudoephedrine for importation into the United States and aiding and abetting the manufacture and distribution of 500 grams or more of methamphetamine.  They face a maximum penalty of life in prison.  Estrada-Morales and Estrada-Paredes were taken into custody in Guatemala on January 27, 2011.

            According to the indictment, Estrada-Morales, Estrada-Reyes, and Estrada-Paredes operated a drug trafficking organization in Guatemala that allegedly arranged for millions of pseudoephedrine pills, a precursor chemical used to manufacture methamphetamine, to be illegally imported to Guatemala from China, Bangladesh, and other countries. After paying bribes to ensure the illegal pills cleared customs in Guatemala, the men allegedly sent the pills to clandestine laboratories where they would “wash” the pills to extract pure pseudoephedrine. They allegedly sold this extracted pseudoephedrine to customers – including representatives of “La Familia” and other Mexican drug cartels – who would then use the extracted pseudoephedrine to manufacture methamphetamine for importation to the United States.

            The indictment also alleges that the three men and others in the Guatemalan drug trafficking organization sought to hire an assassin to murder two DEA agents stationed in Guatemala City, along with an employee of the United States Embassy in Guatemala City to discourage law enforcement officials from investigating their organization.

            This case was investigated by the DEA’s Special Operations Division and Guatemala City Country Office, with assistance from the Guatemalan National Police and the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of International Affairs.  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.

            Criminal indictments are only charges and not evidence of guilt.  A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty. 

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.justice.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.

 

 

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