Thursday, September 10, 2020

Mexican Drug Traffickers Charged With Drug Trafficking Crime Based On Seizure Of More Than Three Tons Of Cocaine

 The Defendants Were Transporting the Massive Cocaine Shipment in a Go-Fast Vessel off the Coast of Mexico’s Quintana Roo State

Audrey Strauss, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Raymond P. Donovan, Special Agent in Charge of the New York Division of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”), Keith M. Corlett, Superintendent of the New York State Police (“NYSP”), Peter C. Fitzhugh, Special Agent in Charge of the New York Office of Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”), and Dermot Shea, Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), announced that RAYMUNDO MONTOYA-LÓPEZ, ABRAHAM ALFONSO GARCÍA-MONTOYA, and FELIZARDO DÍAZ-HERNANDEZ were charged in a criminal complaint in Manhattan federal court with conspiring to import almost three tons of cocaine into the United States.  The charge arises from a September 1, 2020, seizure by Mexico’s Secretaría de Marina (the “Mexican Navy”) of approximately 2,960 kilograms of cocaine off the coast of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo.

Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said:  “As alleged, these defendants are responsible for the attempted importation of more than three tons of cocaine into the United States.  Thanks to the work of the DEA and the Mexican Navy, the shipment was interdicted and the defendants are in custody and facing federal prosecution.”

DEA Special Agent in Charge Raymond P. Donovan said:  “Law enforcement thwarted cartel plans to saturate the American drug market with cocaine by intercepting over three tons of cocaine heading towards American towns.  This international enforcement operation has saved lives and reemphasized law enforcement’s commitment to keeping America safe from drug trafficking, drug abuse, and violent crime.”

HSI New York Special Agent in Charge Peter C. Fitzhugh said:  “Cartels continue to operate with no regard for laws or human life, trafficking tons of deadly narcotics across the border and using bribery and intimidation to further their reach with government officials.  With HSI’s continued partnership with DEA’s Strike Force, three more alleged drug trafficking defendants will now face justice and three tons of cocaine will not reach our communities.”

State Police Superintendent Keith M. Corlett said:  “The combined efforts of federal, state and local law enforcement, along with authorities in Mexico, have put this operation out of business and disrupted the transport of thousands of kilos of cocaine to our streets.  This case continues our commitment and partnership to identify, arrest and prosecute anyone who tries to sell these dangerous drugs in our communities.”

Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said:  “This case is another illustration of our joint, ongoing responsibilities in eradicating international drug trafficking. Our NYPD officers, working with our law enforcement partners and federal prosecutors, follow the facts anywhere in the world to achieve justice, in this case interdicting nearly three tons of cocaine off the coast of Mexico.”

As alleged in the Complaint unsealed in federal court[1]:

On or about September 1, 2020, aircraft from the Mexican Navy located and began tracking a boat traveling northwest through the Caribbean Sea toward the Mexican city of Chetumal and the village of Mahahual.  Shortly thereafter, the Mexican Navy intercepted the boat approximately 85 nautical miles off the coast of Quintana Roo, and boarded and searched it.  During the search, the Mexican Navy found and arrested MONTOYA-LÓPEZ, GARCÍA-MONTOYA, and DÍAZ‑HERNANDEZ.  The Mexican Navy also found and seized approximately 2,960 kilograms of cocaine.

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MONTOYA-LÓPEZ, 45, GARCÍA-MONTOYA, 31, and DÍAZ‑HERNANDEZ, 39, all of Sinaloa, Mexico, are charged with conspiring to import cocaine into the United States, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Ms. Strauss praised the outstanding investigative work of the DEA’s New York Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Strike Force, the DEA’s Mérida Resident Office, and Mexico’s Secretaría de Marina.  The Strike Force is housed at the DEA’s New York Division and includes agents and officers of the DEA; the New York City Police Department; the New York State Police; Immigration and Customs Enforcement – Homeland Security Investigations; the U. S. Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; U.S. Customs and Border Protection; U.S. Secret Service; the U.S. Marshals Service; New York National Guard; the Clarkstown Police Department; U.S. Coast Guard; Port Washington Police Department; and New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.

The case is being handled by the Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit.  Assistant United States Attorneys Michael K. Krouse, Stephanie Lake, Daniel G. Nessim, Benjamin Woodside Schrier, and Kyle A. Wirshba are in charge of the prosecution.

The charge contained in the Complaint is merely an allegation, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.


[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Complaint, and the description of the Complaint and statements and filings in court set forth herein, constitute only allegations, and every fact described herein should be treated as an allegation as to the defendants charged in the Complaint.

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