Alleged Guatemalan Drug Kingpin Indicted in San Diego; $10 Million Dollar Reward Offered by U.S. Department of State
Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Mokhtari (619) 546-8402
NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – March 18, 2022
SAN DIEGO – A federal grand jury indictment was unsealed in San Diego against alleged Guatemalan drug kingpin Eugenio Dario Molina-Lopez, aka “Don Dario,” who is accused of being a leader of a transnational criminal organization known as Los Huistas.
Los Huistas are primarily based in the Huehuetenango region of Northwest Guatemala that borders Mexico. This marks the latest indictment unsealed as part of Operation Guerrilla Unit, a multi-year investigation led by Homeland Security Investigations and the United States Attorney’s Office in San Diego that targets high-level Guatemalan drug traffickers and their suppliers.
The indictment returned on January 29, 2019, charges Molina-Lopez with Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine Intended for Unlawful Importation and Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine on Board a Vessel. Molina-Lopez remains a fugitive.
The U.S. Department of State also announced today that it is offering a reward of up to $10 million for information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of Molina-Lopez. This award is offered under the U.S. Department of State’s Narcotics Rewards Program (NRP). More than 75 transnational criminals and major narcotics traffickers have been brought to justice under the NRP and the Transnational Organized Crime Rewards Program (TOCRP) since 1986. The Department has paid more than $135 million in rewards to date.
The State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs manages the NRP in close coordination with Homeland Security Investigations, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and other U.S. government agencies.
ALL IDENTITIES ARE KEPT STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL. Government officials and employees are not eligible for rewards
Operation Guerrilla Unit targets high-level cocaine traffickers operating in northwest Guatemala and their suppliers. This investigation has offered one of the most comprehensive views to date of the inner workings of cocaine trafficking in Guatemala. High-level cocaine traffickers were targeted in a massive probe involving multiple countries, multiple law enforcement agencies around the United States, and a number of federal districts.
“This extraordinary case is one of this district’s most significant, comprehensive and large-scale drug trafficking prosecutions,” said U.S. Attorney Randy S. Grossman. “We are working tirelessly to dismantle cartels by taking down the leaders, one by one.” Grossman thanked the prosecution team, Homeland Security Investigations for spearheading this multi-year investigation, and the many law enforcement agencies that have worked so diligently on this case.
“HSI remains committed to combating the flow of dangerous drugs into the U.S. This includes disrupting and dismantling transnational criminal organizations and their supply networks beyond our borders. The indictment of Molina, the leader of Los Huistas, demonstrates HSI's efforts to target these criminal organizations at their highest levels,” said Chad Plantz, Special Agent in Charge for HSI San Diego. “The reward proposed by the Department of State for Molina’s capture is a significant step forward in the investigation and reflects HSI's holistic approach to countering transnational criminal organizations by collaborating not only with law enforcement partners, but also with our foreign policy and regulatory agencies.”
“The fight against drug cartels in the Eastern Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea requires unity of effort from operational detection, monitoring, and interdiction, to criminal prosecutions by international partners and U.S. Attorneys’ Offices,” said Rear Admiral Brian Penoyer, the Eleventh Coast Guard District commander. “These charges showcase the threat posed by dangerous cartels, gangs and criminal groups that make up extensive organized crime networks.”
This operation is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.
Case Number 19cr0327-DMS
Eugenio Dario Molina-Lopez Age: 57 Huehuetenango, Guatemala
aka “Don Dario,” aka “Molis”
SUMMARY OF CHARGES
International Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Substances – Title 21, U.S.C., Section 959, 960, 963
Criminal Forfeiture – Title 21, U.S.C., Section 853
Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine on Board a Vessel – Title 46, U.S.C., Section 70503(b), 70506
Maximum Penalty: Life in prison and $10 million fine
Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)
Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
U.S. Coast Guard
HSI Attaché Guatemala City, Guatemala
HSI Attaché Mexico City Mexico
Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs
Department of Justice, Office of Enforcement Operations
Department of Justice, Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF)
Department of Justice's Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section (NDDS)
Joint Interagency Task Force-South (JIATF-S)
U.S. Department of Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)
U.S. Department of State
*The charges and allegations contained in an indictment or complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.