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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Colombian National and Cartel Member Sentenced in the Eastern District of Texas for Conspiracy to Import Cocaine into the United States

Defendant Apprehended and Prosecuted as Part of “Operation Dragoneante,” a Multinational Anti-Drug Investigation

SHERMAN, Texas – A Colombian man was sentenced to nearly three decades in federal prison for drug trafficking violations in the Eastern District of Texas, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei today.

Manuel Camilo Renteria Lemus, 37, pleaded guilty on Nov. 16, 2020, to conspiracy to manufacture and distribute cocaine knowing it would be imported into the United States and distribution of cocaine knowing it would be imported into the United States.  Lemus was sentenced to 327 months in federal prison today by U.S. District Judge Amos L. Mazzant, III.

“The sentence imposed today reflects how seriously the United States takes the importation of narcotics into our nation,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei.  “Whether you reside in Anytown, U.S.A., or live thousands of miles beyond American shores, if you scheme to smuggle drugs into the United States, we will find you and bring you to justice.”

“This sentence reflects that three years of being the cellhead of Transnational Criminal Organizations in Panama can result in 30 years of incarceration,” said DEA Dallas Special Agent in Charge Eduardo A. Chávez.  “Greed is ultimately what drove Mr. Lemus to lose power by collecting taxes in order for shipments to make it to United States soil.  Mr. Lemus’ sentence today shows the impact of DEA and our counterparts efforts in East Texas communities and around the country”.

According to information presented in court, beginning sometime in 2016, Lemus, a resident and national of Colombia, was a primary member of a drug trafficking organization responsible for multi-ton cocaine shipments which originated from Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Mexico for further distribution to the United States.  Specifically, Lemus was the head of the Panamanian cell of the Clan Del Golfo (CDG) Cartel operating in Colombia, Panama, and elsewhere.  Lemus was responsible for receiving maritime shipments of cocaine in Palmira, conducting enforcement operations, and collecting taxes and tributes for the CDG.  Airplanes, go-fast boats, semi-tractor trailer trucks, and passenger vehicles were used to transport most of the cocaine shipments.  A federal grand jury returned an indictment charging Lemus with federal drug trafficking violations on Feb. 2, 2019.  Lemus was subsequently arrested in Panama in March 2020 and was extradited to the United States thereafter.

This effort is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at https://www.justice.gov/OCDETF.

This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Colleen Bloss and Jay Combs.

 

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Updated August 17, 2021