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.
May 23, 2014