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Press Release

El Paso Man Sentenced to Federal Prison for Cocaine Trafficking

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

A federal judge in El Paso sentenced 34-year-old Daniel Leal yesterday to 87 months of imprisonment for cocaine trafficking, announced U.S. Attorney Ashley C. Hoff; FBI Special Agent in Charge Luis Quesada, El Paso Division; and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Kyle Williamson, El Paso Field Office. 

In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Judge David C. Guaderrama ordered that Leal be placed on supervised release for a period of three years after completing his prison term.

On September 22, 2020, Leal pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine. According to court records, on April 10, 2020, El Paso Police officers conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle driven by David Lightbourn, 46, of El Paso. A canine unit alerted to an odor of narcotics. Officers subsequently discovered approximately eight kilograms of cocaine inside the vehicle.  Further investigation revealed that the cocaine was being delivered at Leal’s direction. 

By pleading guilty, Leal accepted responsibility for the cocaine discovered by authorities on April 10, 2020.  Furthermore, Leal accepted responsibility for nine kilograms of cocaine delivered from El Paso to Kansas City, Missouri on March 4, 2020 as well as $219,000 derived from the delivery of the cocaine. El Paso police seized the currency from Lightbourn following a traffic stop on his return trip to El Paso.  By pleading guilty, Leal also admitted to buying approximately 18,000 rounds of ammunition intended for illegal exportation into Mexico.  That ammunition was seized by FBI in July 2019 as part of an on-going investigation.

Leal has remained in federal custody since his arrest on April 27, 2020. 

On January 6, 2021, Lightbourn pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine. He faces between 10 years to life in federal prison.  Sentencing is scheduled for April 19, 2021, before U.S. District Judge Guaderrama.

These sentences resulted from an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation called Operation Plumba conducted by the FBI, DEA, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and El Paso Police Department. 

The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering operations, and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Watts prosecuted this case.



Media Relations
(210) 384-7257

Updated March 16, 2021

Drug Trafficking