SEP 23 (TAMPA, Fla.) – Mark R. Trouville, Special Agent in Charge (SAC), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Miami Field Division, and A. Lee Bentley, III, Acting United States Attorney for the Middle District of Florida, announce that a federal jury found Alma Lucrecia Hernandez-Preciado, a/k/a "La Tia," (40, Tecun Uman, Guatemala) guilty last week on two counts for violating the Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Act. On September 22, 2011, an indictment was returned against Hernandez-Preciado, in Tampa, followed by her arrest on October 10, 2011, in Guatemala. Hernandez-Preciado, who was extradited to Tampa in February 2013, faces a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years, or up to a maximum penalty of life in federal prison. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for December 17, 2013, before the Honorable Susan C. Bucklew.
According to testimony and evidence presented at trial, from a date unknown to September 2011, Hernandez-Preciado conspired with others, including persons who were onboard a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, to possess with intent to distribute, and to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine. Hernandez-Preciado was also convicted of aiding and abetting others, including persons who were onboard a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, with respect to the possession with the intent to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine. The evidence proved that Hernandez-Preciado organized a series of maritime cocaine smuggling shipments from Ecuador to Guatemala. Specifically on May 19, 2011, a smuggling venture where the crew of a go-fast boat was interdicted by the United States Coast Guard (USCG) off the coast of Guatemala resulting in the seizure of 347 kilograms of cocaine.
Evidence presented at trial included testimony from members of the USCG, wiretap intercepts conducted by the Guatemalan National Police, cooperating witnesses in the smuggling conspiracy, as well as communications obtained from Hernandez-Preciado by Panama Express Strike Force agents.
This case was investigated by the Panama Express Strike Force, an OCDETF funded operation targeting maritime smuggling. Participating agencies include the DEA, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the USCG Investigative Service, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations, the Joint Interagency Task Force – South, and the United States Marshals Service, with assistance from the DEA's Guatemala City Country Office, the Guatemalan government and law enforcement agencies.
SAC Trouville commends the prosecution efforts of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida.