Four Foreign Nationals Indicted For International Cocaine Smuggling Conspiracy
Tampa, FL – United States Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez announces the return of an indictment charging Jorge Lucas Murillo (28, Ecuador), Carlos Patron Marchan (20, Ecuador), Weimar Valencia Campaz (28, Colombia), and Abraham Lopez Mendoza (47, Mexico) with conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine. If convicted, each faces a maximum penalty of life in federal prison and a $10 million fine for each count.
This indictment arose out of a July 9, 2018, interdiction of a drug smuggling vessel in international waters by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Cutter ALERT. As part of the interdiction, the USCG seized approximately 1,200 kilograms of cocaine.
An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent until, and unless, proven guilty.
This case was investigated by the Panama Express Strike Force, an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) comprised of agents and analysts from the United States Coast Guard Investigative Service, Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, and U.S. Southern Command’s Joint Interagency Task Force South. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and those primarily responsible for the nation’s drug supply. It is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Nicholas G. DeRenzo.