Del Rio Jury Convicts Two Los Zetas Cartel Members on Federal Drug and Firearm Charges
Two senior members of the Los Zetas Cartel operating in Piedras Negras, Mexico, face up to life in federal prison after a jury convicted them of smuggling thousands of kilograms of marijuana and hundreds of assault rifles announced Robert Pitman, United States Attorney; Janice Ayala, 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 Friday afternoon, jurors convicted 29–year-old Emilio Villalobos-Alcala (aka “La Tripa”), 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.
In February 2013, Villalobos was arrested at the Port of Entry in Eagle Pass. Lugo-Lopez was arrested in Eagle Pass in November 2012 after crossing into the country illegally. Villalobos-Alcala and Lugo-Lopez remain in federal custody pending sentencing. Sentencing is scheduled for December 15, 2014, in Del Rio.
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.