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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Illinois

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Texas Native Sentenced to 30 Years for Drug Counts and Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering while Serving a Federal Sentence


Donald S. Boyce, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, announced that Joel Lopez, Jr., 38, was sentenced today by United States District Court Judge Nancy J. Rosenstengel to 360 months (30 years) in federal prison on five felony drug counts and 240 months for conspiring to commit money laundering (the sentences are all to run concurrently), a $600 fine and $600 in special assessment fees. The Judge also ordered that her sentence of imprisonment should run consecutively to the federal sentence Lopez is currently serving on other charges. Following his term of imprisonment, Judge Rosenstengel imposed a five year term of supervised release on the drug counts and three years for the money laundering count to run concurrently with each other.

Facts revealed in open court at the sentencing and plea hearings established that Lopez committed the drug and money laundering offenses while an inmate at the United States Penitentiary Marion, in Williamson County, Illinois, from a cell phone he had in prison some time in or before May 2014. While in custody, Lopez passed to two fellow inmates the telephone number of a codefendant in Southern Texas who distributed drugs. This telephone number was then passed to others who purchased or agreed to purchase cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana from the codefendant. The purchasers wired drug proceeds through bank accounts or MoneyGram to the codefendant in Southern Texas, who provided some of the proceeds to Lopez’s family as payment for recruiting new customers. At sentencing, Judge Rosenstengel found that Lopez had conspired to distribute 21 kilograms of cocaine, 19.95 kilograms of marijuana, and over 10 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine in the form of "ice," which is methamphetamine with a purity of at least eighty percent. This was Lopez’s third federal conviction for drug crimes.

Evidence in support of this prosecution was obtained in an investigation which was conducted under the auspices of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). The OCDETF initiative is designed to bring federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies and resources together to identify, target and dismantle large national and international drug trafficking organizations. Agencies participating in this case include the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Monica A. Stump.

Drug Trafficking
Updated July 13, 2016