Colombian National Pleads Guilty to Cocaine Trafficking and Illegal Reentry
BOSTON – A Colombian national pleaded guilty today in federal court in Boston to cocaine trafficking and illegal reentry charges.
Ricardo Lopera-Arteaga, 58, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine, one count of possession with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine and one count of unlawful reentry of a deported alien. U.S. District Court Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV scheduled sentencing for Dec. 10, 2020. Lopera-Arteaga has been in federal custody since his arrest on Oct. 9, 2019 with co-defendant Diego Sanchez, 34, who pleaded guilty to similar charges on May 15, 2020.
Sanchez and Lopera-Arteaga conspired together to sell one kilogram of cocaine to a cooperating witness in East Boston in October 2019. Sanchez also engaged in two sales of cocaine to the same cooperating witness on Sept. 10 and 27, 2019 in East Boston. On Oct. 9, 2019, law enforcement agents observed both men meet and walk together towards a spot arranged for the drug transaction. Agents arrested both men a short time later and seized one kilogram of cocaine from Lopera-Arteaga.
The charges of conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of cocaine provide for a mandatory minimum sentence of five years and up to 40 years in prison, at least four years of supervised release and a fine of up to $5 million. The charge of unlawful reentry of a deported alien carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. Lopera-Arteaga will be subject to deportation upon completion of any sentence imposed. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
The operation was conducted by a multi-agency task force through the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), a partnership between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. 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. More information on the OCDETF program is available here: https://www.justice.gov/ocdetf/about-ocdetf.
United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; and Boston Police Commissioner William Gross made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen W. Hassink of Lelling’s Narcotics and Money Laundering Unit is prosecuting the case.