Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Juan Alberto Ortiz-Lopez, High-Ranking Guatemalan Drug Trafficker, Extradited to Face Federal Drug Charges #OperationPanamaExpress

Juan Alberto Ortiz-Lopez, a/k/a “Chamale,” a/k/a “Juanito,” (43, San Marcos, Guatemala) has been extradited to the Middle District of Florida to face federal drug trafficking charges. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of life in federal prison. The indictment also notifies Ortiz-Lopez that the United States intends to forfeit any and all properties, which are traceable to proceeds of the offenses. Ortiz-Lopez was indicted on February 1, 2011 and arrested on March 30, 2011, by Guatemalan authorities.

Count one of the indictment charges Ortiz-Lopez with conspiring with other persons, including persons who were on board a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States and who were first brought into the United States, at a point in the Middle District of Florida, to possess with the intent to distribute and distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine. Count two charges Ortiz-Lopez with conspiring with other persons to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, knowing and intending that such substance would be unlawfully imported into the United States.

Ortiz-Lopez’s indictment was obtained following a long-term investigation by the Operation Panama Express Strike Force—a multi-agency task force targeting large-scale drug trafficking organizations involved in smuggling shipments of narcotics into the United States. Ortiz-Lopez was designated under the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program as a Consolidated Priority Organization Target (CPOT) and was considered by the DEA to be the highest-ranking drug trafficker currently operating in Guatemala. For over a decade, Ortiz-Lopez’s drug organization received multi-ton cocaine shipments in Guatemala, which would then be transported through Mexico to the United States, where the cocaine would be further distributed.

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