Ediel Lopez Falcon, a member of the Gulf Cartel, was sentenced today to serve 18 years in prison for conspiring to import multi-ton quantities of cocaine and marijuana into the United States. Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Acting Administrator Chuck Rosenberg of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) made the announcement.
Lopez Falcon, 41, pleaded guilty on Feb. 3, 2015 before U.S. District Judge Barbara J. Rothstein of the District of Columbia. In addition to imposing the prison term, the court ordered Lopez Falcon to forfeit $15 billion, which represents the gross receipts of the Gulf Cartel’s drug sales from its principal distribution centers located along the U.S.-Mexico border.
In connection with his guilty plea, Lopez Falcon admitted that he was a member of the Gulf Cartel, a Mexico-based criminal organization, also known as “The Company,” which was responsible for the distribution of multi-ton quantities of cocaine and marijuana from Mexico into the United States. According to the statement of facts to which Lopez Falcon admitted as part of his guilty plea, the Gulf Cartel maintained an armed faction, known as “Los Zetas,” which was made up of ex-military personnel, and that acted as enforcers and hit-men to protect the Gulf Cartel’s territory from rival drug traffickers.
In connection with his guilty plea, Lopez Falcon further admitted to supporting The Company’s mission by becoming directly involved in the importation of cocaine and marijuana into the United States and the transportation of drug proceeds back to Mexico from the United States. Pretrial documents also reveal that Lopez Falcon was lawfully intercepted discussing shipments of cocaine and marijuana, the acquisition of weapons, and the transportation of bulk cash with his co-conspirators.
The investigation was conducted by the DEA’s Houston Field Division and the DEA Bilateral Investigation Unit and was part of an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation. The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney Adrián Rosales of the Criminal Division’s Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section.