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Press Release

Foreign National Accused of Intending to Traffic Large Amounts of Narcotics in Utah

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Utah

Salt Lake City, Utah – A federal grand jury returned an indictment today charging a foreign national living in Utah with drug crimes after she was arrested and accused of distributing methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine and fentanyl, through a drug trafficking organization, in the District of Utah. 

According to court documents, Leonilde Andrea Lopez Vargas, 35, of Midvale, Utah, was arrested in June 2024 following a criminal investigation that started in November 2023 by the FBI Wasatch Metro Drug Task Force. On June 18, 2024, agents seized approximately 2,813 grams of field-tested positive fentanyl that was estimated to be approximately 28,000 pills. Agents also seized approximately 1,648 grams of field-tested positive heroin, and approximately 1,182.5 grams of field-tested positive cocaine at Vargas’ residence in Midvale. In Vargas’ vehicle, agents seized approximately 478 grams of field-tested positive methamphetamine. 

Prior to the June seizure, agents also seized approximately 502.88 grams of field-tested positive heroin, 1,892.11 grams of field-tested positive methamphetamine, approximately 670.62 grams of field-tested positive fentanyl, and a digital scale from a storage unit believed to be connected to Vargas in West Valley City, Utah. 

Vargas is charged with possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, possession of fentanyl with intent to distribute, possession of heroin with intent to distribute, and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. Her initial appearance on the indictment is scheduled for July 08, 2024, at 11:30 a.m. in courtroom 8.4 at the United States District Courthouse in downtown Salt Lake City. 

United States Attorney, Trina A. Higgins, of the District of Utah made the announcement.

The case is being investigated by the FBI Wasatch Metro Drug Task Force. 

Assistant United States Attorney Seth Nielsen of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Utah is prosecuting the case. 

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce gun violence and other violent crime, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results. For more information about Project Safe Neighborhoods, please visit Justice.gov/PSN.

The case was investigated under the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF). OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. For more information about OCDETF, please visit https://www.justice.gov/ocdetf

An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. 
 

Contact

Felicia Martinez
Public Affairs Specialist
Felicia.martinez@usdoj.gov
(801) 325-3237
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Updated July 3, 2024

Topics
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Drug Trafficking
Press Release Number: 24-76