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Guatemala extradites wanted drug lord to America

U.S. officials cocaine from seized vessel in failed smuggling attempt
U.S. officials cocaine from seized vessel in failed smuggling attempt
Photo by Tim Boyles/Getty Images

The United States Attorney for the Middle District of Florida in Tampa, Florida announced today the extradition of Juan Alberto Ortiz-Lopez, 43 years of age, identified as ‘the highest ranking Guatemalan drug trafficker’ to the U.S. from Guatemala to answer for charges pending in indictment handed down by a federal grand jury on February 1, 2011. Ortiz-Lopez made his first appearance in federal court on May 23, 2014 in Tampa before Magistrate Judge Thomas B. McCoun III. Judge McCoun ordered Ortiz-Lopez held without bond. U.S. immigration officials (ICE) also placed a detainer on Ortiz-Lopez. According to the U.S. Attorney’s press release, the two-count indictment charged Ortiz-Lopez with ‘conspiring with members of a vessel subject to possess more than five kilos of cocaine with intent to distribute,” and “possession of more than five kilos cocaine with intent to distribute.” According to a report by the Guatemalan newspaper Diario de Centro America (May 23, 2014), 'following the indictment Guatemalan officials captured Ortiz-Lopez on March 30, 2001 in the town of El Maestro de Quetzaltenango.' The newspaper stated officials accused Ortiz-Lopez of collaborating with Colombian cartels seeking to smuggle no less than 40,000 kilos of cocaine to the U.S. by sea, between 1998 and 2010. If convicted, Ortiz-Lopez faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. Agents from the Florida based Panama Express Task Force, led by the Drug Enforcement Administration, investigated the case.