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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Guatemalan Man Pleads Guilty to Cocaine Distribution Conspiracy

RICHMOND, Va. – A Guatemalan citizen pleaded guilty today to conspiring to distribute over five kilograms of cocaine knowing and intending that it would be unlawfully imported into the United States. 

According to court documents, Paulo Cesar Montenegro Arevalo, 41, was a member of a large-scale international drug trafficking organization (DTO) based in Central America. Between June 2015 and June 2016, Montenegro assisted in the purchase and transportation of approximately 1,107 kilograms of cocaine on behalf of the DTO. Specifically, Montenegro managed a transportation team for the DTO that moved large amounts cocaine from parts of Guatemala to the Mexican border, with intent to import the drugs to the United States. In addition, Montenegro conducted purity tests on cocaine for the DTO prior to purchase from sources of supply. In May 2016, Montenegro, along with other co-conspirators, participated in a search and rescue recovery effort of approximately 500 kilograms of cocaine lost at sea by the DTO off the Pacific coast of Guatemala.

Montenegro Arevalo pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine and faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in prison when sentenced on September 7. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The case was investigated as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) Operation Go Explorers. The OCDETF program is a federal multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional task force that supplies supplemental federal funding to federal and state agencies involved in the identification, investigation, and prosecution of major drug trafficking organizations. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering organizations, and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply.

Tracy Doherty-McCormick, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Karl C. Colder, Special Agent in Charge for the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Washington Field Division, made the announcement after U.S. Magistrate Judge David J. Novak accepted the plea. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Erik S. Siebert, Peter S. Duffey, and Heather H. Mansfield are prosecuting the case.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information is located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 3:16-cr-67.

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Contact: 
Joshua Stueve Director of Communications joshua.stueve@usdoj.gov
Updated May 23, 2018