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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of North Carolina

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Lenoir County Drug Trafficker Sentenced For Cocaine And Marijuana Conspiracy

NEW BERN – The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina announced that in federal court on December 6, 2016, United States District Judge Louise W. Flanagan sentenced HUBERTO ESPINDOLA-SOTO, 37, from La Grange, N.C., to 146 months in prison and 5 years of supervised release for conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine and 500 grams or more of methamphetamine and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.  ESPINDOLA-SOTO pled guilty to these charges on June 14, 2016.       

     On November 12, 2014, after a lengthy investigation, DEA Task Force Officers arrested ESPIDOLA-SOTO after he left his residence in La Grange, N.C.  During a search of the residence, officers found approximately 3 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine, 5 kilograms of cocaine, two assault rifles and a .22 caliber rifle. Officers arrested a co-conspirator, AUGUSTO ESPINDOLA-PINEDA, on the same day.  The investigation revealed that the conspiracy involved 335 kilograms of cocaine, 3 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine and 500 pounds of marijuana.  AUGUSTO ESPINDOLA-SOTO pled guilty to the same charges in May 2016 and is scheduled to be sentenced in February 2017.

This case was part of OCDETF Operation “Smokin’ Aces”.  Operation “Smokin’ Aces” was designed to attack the infrastructure of Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations operating not only in the Eastern District of North Carolina, but throughout North Carolina, the United States and Mexico.  These organizations are responsible for the importation of large quantities of cocaine, marijuana, and methamphetamine into the United States, as well as the related remittance of illegal drug proceeds back into Mexico. 

The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Lenoir County Sheriff’s Office, the Greenville Police Department, the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office, the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office, the Wilson Police Department, the Rocky Mount Police Department, the Nash County Sheriff’s Office, the Goldsboro Police Department, the Raleigh Police Department, and the Person County Sheriff’s Office.  The federal prosecution was handled by Special Assistant United States Attorney Glenn Perry.  Mr. Perry is a prosecutor with the Pitt County District Attorney’s Office.  Pitt County District Attorney Kimberly Robb has assigned Mr. Perry to the United States Attorney’s Office, pursuant to funding provided by the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys, to prosecute federal Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force criminal matters.  

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News releases are available on the U. S. Attorney’s web page at within 48 hours of release.

Updated December 6, 2016