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Daily Court Reporter - News Man sentenced to 24 years in prison for leading conspiracy that brought 20 pounds of methamphetamine into Northeast Ohio


Man sentenced to 24 years in prison for leading conspiracy that brought 20 pounds of methamphetamine into Northeast Ohio

A Mexican national was sentenced to 24 years in prison for leading a conspiracy that brought 20 pounds of methamphetamine into Northeast Ohio.

Jesus Caro Lopez, 40, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine and cocaine, distribution of methamphetamine and conspiracy to launder money.

He will be deported upon completion of his prison sentence. Caro Lopez has previously been deported at least seven times. He is one of nine people that have been sentenced to prison for their roles in the conspiracy.

Rogelio Cervantes owned Si Senor restaurant in Westlake and Fiesta Los Jalapenos in North Ridgeville. Cervantes agreed to introduce a person cooperating with law enforcement (identified as Source 1) to Caro Lopez, who Cervantes identified as his Mexican-based drug supplier. Cervantes and Source 1 discussed the potential and logistics of Caro Lopez transporting kilograms of cocaine to the Cleveland area for distribution, according to court documents.

Cervantes told Source 1 that Caro Lopez intended to sneak into the United States to set up a drug distribution hub in Cleveland. Cervantes said he and Caro Lopez then planned to launder their drug profits by buying properties, shopping centers and restaurants, according to court documents.

Caro Lopez talked to an undercover agent in November 2016 and stated he was sending one kilogram of cocaine and five pounds of methamphetamine to Cleveland. The undercover spoke with Caro Lopez in December 2016 and then with Jose DeJesus Rocha Garcia about meeting at on Brook Park Road in North Olmsted to pick up a delivery of methamphetamine. They met and the undercover gave Roche Garcia $14,000 for more than 10 pounds of methamphetamine, according to court documents.

In May 2017, the undercover agent continued discussions with Caro Lopez about purchasing drugs. Caro Lopez arranged for Melchor Lopez Lopez to meet at the North Olmsted WalMart, where undercover agents gave Lopez Lopez $20,000 in exchange for 10 pounds of methamphetamine, according to court documents.

“This group brought large amounts of methamphetamine and cocaine into the United States from Mexico, and wanted to establish a drug distribution hub here in Cleveland,” U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman said.

FBI Special Agent in Charge Stephen D. Anthony said: “Being able to stop Mr. Caro Lopez from importing significant quantities of cocaine and methamphetamine into Northeast Ohio has made our community a safer place. The collective efforts of the FBI and our federal and local law enforcement partners led to the dismantlement of this sophisticated drug trafficking organization.”

“Today’s announcement is a culmination of a multi-year effort in which IRS-CI worked with its law enforcement partners to disrupt the flow of money -- the lifeblood that allows these multi-million dollar drug organizations to proliferate and have such a negative impact on our community,” said Ryan L. Korner, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Cincinnati Field Office.

Others sentenced to prison in the case already include Rocha Garcia (140 months), Leopolda Rocha (121 months) and Jose Lopez (72 months). Cervantes has pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Margaret Sweeney following an investigation by the Northern Ohio Law Enforcement Task Force.

About the US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio

The Department of Justice is the nation's litigator, serving but one client, the United States. The United States Attorneys serve as the Department's principal litigators under the direction of the Attorney General. There are 93 United States Attorneys stationed in judicial districts throughout the United States and its territories. United States Attorneys are appointed by, and serve at the discretion of the President of the United States, with advice and consent of the United States Senate. Each United States Attorney is the Chief Federal Law Enforcement Officer of the United States within his or her particular jurisdiction.

United States Attorneys conduct most of the trial work in which the United States is a party. The United States Attorneys have three statutory responsibilities under Title 28, Section 507 of the United States Code:

• the prosecution of criminal cases brought by the Federal Government;

• the prosecution and defense of civil cases in which the United States is a party; and

• the collection of debt owed to the Federal Government.

Although the caseload varies among districts, each has every category of cases and handles a mixture of simple and complex litigation. Each United States Attorney exercises wide discretion in the use of his or her resources to further the priorities of the local jurisdictions and needs of their communities.

The Northern District of Ohio consists of the 40 northern counties in Ohio. The U.S. Attorney's office (USAO) for the district is located in Cleveland, Ohio and there are staffed branch offices in Toledo, Akron and Youngstown. The office is divided into organizational units with specific responsibility for carrying out the mission of the office.

Date Published: August 20, 2018


The United States Attorneys Office Northern District of Ohio


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