San Antonio, Texas, federal court: 40 years for drug and gun crimes

A San Antonio judge sentenced a young alleged gang member to 40 years in prison for federal drug and gun crimes

In July 2014, a 25-year-old man received a sentence of 40 years in federal prison after having pleaded guilty in September 2013 to various federal firearm and drug charges. According to a U.S. Attorney's Office press release, defendant Arnoldo Lopez is a member of a San Antonio gang. The federal criminal charges relate to cocaine distribution and the purchase of firearms under false pretenses to send to a Mexican drug cartel.

U.S. District Court Judge Xavier Rodriguez handled two related federal criminal cases against defendant Lopez as follows:

  • Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute crack cocaine and possession of a firearm during drug trafficking: 40 years
  • Six charges of making a false statement during a firearm purchase: five years to run concurrently with the other sentence

The press release cites court records as the source for these allegations. In October 2012, the San Antonio Police Department Gang Unit arrested Lopez after finding him and others with "distributable quantities" of crack cocaine and four guns (assault rifle, shotguns and semi-automatic pistol). Federal agents were already looking into a "firearms straw purchasing operation" directed by Lopez that obtained "dozens of firearms under false pretenses," including AK-47 and AR-15 assault rifles for a Mexican cartel.

Several co-defendants have been or will be sentenced for related convictions.

The investigation was jointly conducted by San Antonio police and the federal agencies Homeland Security Investigations and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The press release quotes prosecution officials whose statements make it clear that state and federal law enforcement in San Antonio will work jointly to try to prevent violent crime, in particular as it relates to gun running for "transnational criminal organizations."

While this is certainly good for public safety, in the urgent quest for justice in South Texas, it is possible that some innocent defendants may be arrested and charged with crimes, state or federal. As the Lopez case illustrates, federal penalties for gun and drug crimes are very serious.

Anyone in Texas who is investigated or arrested for or charged with a federal or state gun or drug crime should seek representation by and advice from an experienced criminal defense attorney who is familiar with the kinds of sweeping investigations being conducted by joint federal and local law enforcement teams. In light of current tension related to keeping the border area as safe and crime free as possible, anyone caught up in the situation as a defendant should be sure to engage a lawyer who can mount a vigorous defense on his or her behalf.

Keywords: San Antonio, Texas, federal, drug crime, firearm offense, sentence, crack cocaine, purchase, false pretenses, conspiracy, possession, distribute, gun, conviction, penalty, investigation

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