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Press Release

Mexican Nationals Illegally Residing in Kentucky Convicted in Large Cocaine-Trafficking Conspiracy

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Kentucky

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Three Mexican Nationals illegally residing in Louisville, Ky. were sentenced today, by U.S. District Judge Danny C. Reeves, for their roles in a conspiracy to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine. A federal jury found Imanol Pineda Penaloza, 37, and Efrain Villa Villanueva, 24, guilty in May 2018.  A third defendant, Sergio Aguilar Piedra, 25, entered a plea of guilty to the same charges.  Imanol Pineda Penaloza was sentenced to a term of 340 months, while Efrain Villa Villanueva was sentenced to 200 months.  Sergio Aguilar Piedra was previously sentenced to 125 months.

The evidence at trial established that all three men participated in the drug trafficking conspiracy from November 2015 until March 2018.  In 2015, the Narcotics Enforcement Unit with the Lexington Police Department executed a search warrant, at an address on Lonan Court in Lexington, and seized nearly 19 kilograms of cocaine, approximately $400,000 in U.S. currency and two firearms.  In 2016 and 2017, the defendants continued to distribute kilogram quantities of cocaine and other drugs, in Louisville and elsewhere. The amount of cocaine involved in the conspiracy was approximately 100 kilograms.

Each defendant must serve 85% of his federal prison sentence.  Upon their release from prison, each defendant will face deportation to Mexico.  

“The defendants were responsible for distributing an enormous amount of cocaine, and the significant sentences imposed underscore the seriousness of their illegal conduct,” said Robert M. Duncan, Jr., United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky.  “The investigation and prosecution were successful because of the good work of and cooperation among federal, state, and local law enforcement, and I commend their efforts.”    

Robert M. Duncan, Jr., United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky; Darrell Christopher Evans, Special Agent in Charge, DEA Louisville; Lawrence Weathers, Chief of Police, Lexington-Fayette County Division of Police; and Richard Sanders, Commissioner of the Kentucky State Police, jointly announced the sentences.

Updated August 24, 2018

Drug Trafficking