Los Zetas Members Sentenced to Life Imprisonment on Federal Drug and Firearm Charges
In Del Rio this morning, U.S. District Judge Alia Moses sentenced two members of the Los Zetas Drug Trafficking Organization, to life in federal prison for smuggling thousands of kilograms of marijuana and hundreds of assault rifles announced Richard L. Durbin, Jr., Acting United States Attorney; James Spero, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge of the San Antonio Division; Robert Elder, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Special Agent in Charge of the Houston Division; and, Christopher Combs, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent in Charge of the San Antonio Division.
On June 20, 2014, a federal jury convicted 29–year-old Emilio Villalobos-Alcala and 27–year-old Jose Eluid Lugo-Lopez (aka “Cochi Loco”) of one count of conspiracy to import marijuana; one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana; one count of conspiracy to possess firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime; and, two counts of smuggling goods from the United States.
According to courtroom testimony, Villalobos-Alcala, a purported leader of the Los Zetas Cartel activities in Piedras Negras and fellow senior level member Lugo-Lopez were involved in a large-scale marijuana and firearms smuggling scheme from July 2011 until February 2013. Assault weapons, other firearms, magazines and ammunition purchased in San Antonio were transported inside hidden compartments in cars and trucks and smuggled through Eagle Pass, Texas, to Piedras Negras. Bundles of marijuana, smuggled across the river into Quemado, Texas, were transported to stash houses in Eagle Pass. From there, the marijuana was transported to stash houses in San Antonio and ultimately to distributors in Dallas and Houston.
Evidence presented during the trial included multiple threats made by Villalobos-Alcala and Lugo-Lopez that they would kill people involved in the smuggling conspiracy or their family members if they did not pay money for drugs or weapons seized by law enforcement or agree to move drugs or weapons on behalf of the cartel.
“Today’s sentencing of Emilio Villalobos-Alcala and Jose Eluid Lugo-Lopez to life imprisonment sends a clear message of the serious consequences awaiting those who engage in this type of criminal activity,” said James Spero, Special in Charge, HSI San Antonio. “HSI will continue to utilize its broad authorities, in concert with its federal, state/local and international partners, to dismantle criminal organizations.”
“Operations such as these, which rely on intimidation and violence to accomplish their goals, represent the worst types of offenders. ATF is proud to be among the agencies responsible for taking down two key players in the Los Zetas Cartel,” said Robert Elder, ATF Special Agent in Charge.
This case was investigated by special agents with HSI, ATF, FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration together with the U.S. Border Patrol, Texas Department of Public Safety and the Zavala County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorneys Jay Hulings and Russell Leachman prosecuted this case on behalf of the Government.