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Press Release

Former Commander of Mexican State Police and Member of the Gulf Cartel Pleads Guilty to Drug Conspiracy Charges

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

Gilberto Lerma Plata, a former commander of the Mexican State Police and member of the Gulf Cartel, pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to import multi-ton quantities of marijuana into the United States, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Administrator Michele M. Leonhart of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). 

Lerma Plata, 50, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly in the District of Columbia. 

On July 29, 2011, Lerma Plata was charged with conspiracy to manufacture and distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine and 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana for importation into the United States.  Lerma Plata was arrested in McAllen, Texas, on May 9, 2012. 

“As a Mexican police officer, Gilberto Lerma Plata was supposed to protect the public from harm.  Instead, he abused his power to further the notorious Gulf Cartel’s violent narcotics trafficking operations,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Raman.  “This prosecution is the product of the Justice Department’s unwavering commitment to working with its domestic and foreign law enforcement partners to bring cartel members and associates to justice for their crimes.”

“Using operatives such as former Mexican state police commander Gilberto Lerma Plata, the Gulf Cartel has smuggled huge amounts of dangerous drugs into the United States for far too long, while using violence, intimidation and public corruption to strengthen their ability to traffic drugs,” said DEA Administrator Leonhart.  “DEA will continue our aggressive and sustained efforts against the Gulf Cartel and other criminal groups by attacking not only their high level leadership and financial networks, but the drug trafficking facilitators who harm neighborhoods and communities in Mexico and the United States.”

Lerma Plata was employed as the commander of the state police in Miguel Aleman, Tamaulipas, Mexico.  According to court documents, Lerma Plata was on the Gulf Cartel’s payroll while he was employed by the state police, and he used his position of authority to engage in drug trafficking activities with the cartel.  Intercepted conversations revealed that Lerma Plata and high ranking members of the Gulf Cartel discussed the shipment of large quantities of marijuana for distribution in the United States as well as the transportation from the United States of proceeds from the sales of the drugs and firearms.

The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Adrián Rosales and Darrin McCullough of the Criminal Division’s Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section.  The investigation in this case was led by the DEA’s Houston Field Division and the DEA Bilateral Investigation Unit.

Updated September 15, 2014

Press Release Number: 13-264