News Release
February 6, 2008

Two Charged With Marijuana Distribution In San Diego

FEB 6 -- (San Diego CA ) - Karen P. Hewitt, United States Attorney for the Southern District of California, announced the unsealing today of a 6-count indictment charging Esequiel Lopez and Armando Regalado-Naranjo with Conspiracy to Distribute Marijuana and charging Esequiel Lopez with multiple counts of Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Distribute. A federal grand jury sitting in San Diego handed up the indictment on November 30, 2007, which was then sealed until their arrests by agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration and the United States Border Patrol.

According to the indictment, Esequiel Lopez and Armando Regalado-Naranjo conspired with each other and with other co-conspirators to distribute over 1,000 kilograms of marijuana. The indictment further charges that Esequiel Lopez possessed marijuana with intent to distribute on multiple occasions during the time period between March 2005 and May 2007.

"The arrest of these defendants drastically disrupted a marijuana Drug Trafficking Organization that operated in the county's east corridor, linking the U.S. & the Republic of Mexico. This DTO illegally imported the marijuana and subsequently transported it to the greater San Diego area," said Special Agent in Charge Ralph Partridge of the San Diego Field Division. "These enforcement actions have a direct impact since the marijuana supplied by this DTO has been halted; reducing both the local and national supply."

According to court records, the defendants were arrested on January 30, 2008, and arraigned today before Magistrate Judge Barbara L. Major. The Government has requested that both defendants be detained without bail until trial on the basis of risk of flight. A detention hearing has been set for Tuesday, February 5, 2008.

The arrests and the indictment are the culmination of a multi-year joint investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the United States Border Patrol.
United States Attorney Hewitt praised the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) for the coordinated team effort in the culmination of this investigation. The OCDETF program was created to consolidate and utilize all law enforcement resources in this country’s battle against major drug trafficking.

DEFENDANTS Case Number: 07cr3245BEN
Esequiel Lopez, Armando Regalado-Naranjo

Count: 1
Charges: Conspiracy to Distribute Marijuana Title 21, United States Code, Sections 841(a)(1) and 846. Maximum Penalty: Life in prison and a $4,000,0000 fine.
Count 2-6
Charges: Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Distribute Title 21, United States Code, Sections 841(a)(1). Maximum Penalty: 40 years in prison and a $2,000,0000 fine (Counts 3, 4, 5, 6). Maximum Penalty: 20 years in prison and a $1,000,0000 fine (Count 2).

Drug Enforcement Administration, United States Border Patrol, San Diego County Sheriff’s Department

An indictment is not evidence that the defendants committed the crimes charged. The defendants are presumed innocent until the Government meets its burden in court of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.