Key player in DTO extradited from Mexico

Gregorio Lopez-Rodriguez, 58, of Mexico, was arraigned on July 11, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles R. Pyle. He was extradited from the Republic of Mexico to the District of Arizona on Friday, July 6, 2012. On July 15, 2009, Lopez-Rodriguez was indicted by a federal grand jury in Tucson for conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute approximately 12,906 kilograms of marijuana.

Lopez-Rodriguez allegedly was a high ranking member of a drug trafficking organization responsible for transporting multi-ton quantities of marijuana from Mexico into the United States from February 2007 to June 2008. During the course of the investigation, law enforcement seized in excess of 28,000 pounds of marijuana. The organization, utilizing tractor-trailers, brought multi-ton shipments of marijuana into the United States from Mexico via ports of entry located in Arizona. The shipments were then trans-loaded from the Mexican tractor-trailers to domestic tractor-trailers at various warehouses located in Nogales and Rio Rico, Ariz. The marijuana load was then driven to Tucson or Phoenix and eventually to cities throughout the United States.

Lopez-Rodriguez is one of 22 defendants indicted for their participation in the conspiracy. Nineteen defendants have resolved their cases short of trial and two defendants, Jesus Cota-Ibarra and Jose Pastor Mendez-Huerta, are fugitives believed to be in Mexico.

A conviction for conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute marijuana carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, a $4,000,000 fine, or both.

The arrest and extradition of Lopez-Rodriguez was a collaborative effort between the United States and Mexico. Specifically, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Marshals Service, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona, the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs, the U.S. Department of State, the Procuraduria General de la Republica (Mexico’s federal prosecuting agency), the Agencia Federal de Investigacion (Mexican federal police), and the Policia Estatal Investigadores (State police in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico) all worked together throughout the extradition process.

His trial is set for August 21, 2012, before U.S. District Judge Frank R. Zapata.