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Press Release

Drug User in Illegal Possession of a Firearm Sentenced to Federal Prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Iowa
Lopez also possessed a gun in connection with a burglary, and the shooting of a dog.

An unlawful drug user who possessed a firearm was sentenced on April 7, 2022, to more than two years in federal prison.

Esai Lopez, 23, from South Sioux City, Nebraska, received the prison term after an October 7, 2021, guilty plea to being a drug user in possession of a firearm. 

Evidence at Lopez’s plea and sentencing hearings revealed that on June 3, 2020, defendant illegally possessed a handgun and was disarmed by police.  Then, on June 23, 2020, Lopez and three other men were involved in a shooting.  The men drove to the home of an intended victim, but seeing law enforcement in the area, aborted their attack run.  The men decided upon a secondary target where one of men repeatedly fired at a Sioux City, Iowa home.  There were people, including children, in the house at the time of the shooting.  The evidence further revealed that on September 28, 2020, while the June 23 incident was under investigation, Lopez possessed a firearm in connection with a burglary, an Iowa charge of Intimidation with a Dangerous Weapon, and the shooting of a dog.    

Lopez was sentenced in Sioux City by United States District Court Chief Judge Leonard T. Strand.  Lopez was sentenced to 30 months’ imprisonment.  He was ordered to make $38,863.42. in restitution to victims and the insurance company.   He must also serve a two-year term of supervised release after the prison term.  There is no parole in the federal system.  Lopez is being held in the United States Marshal’s custody until he can be transported to a federal prison.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN).  PSN is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts.  PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

The case was investigated by the Sioux City, Iowa Police Department and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Forde Fairchild. 

Court file information at

The case file number is 20-4071.  Follow us on Twitter @USAO_NDIA. 

Updated April 12, 2022

Project Safe Neighborhoods
Firearms Offenses