Accused Drug Trafficker Arrested In Panama Appears In Miami Federal Court
MIAMI - Michele M. Leonhart, Administrator, Drug Enforcement (DEA), Mark R. Trouville, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement (DEA), Miami Field Division, and Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, announce the unsealing of the indictment against Roberto Lopez Perdigon, 41, of Caracas, Venezuela. Lopez Perdigon was indicted on December 13, 2011, on charges of conspiring to distribute five or more kilograms of cocaine knowing that the drugs would be unlawfully imported into the United States. He was arrested in Panama City, Panama, last week and turned over to United States authorities on Friday, September 14, 2012.
Lopez Perdigon made his initial appearance in federal court today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert L. Dube. If convicted, Lopez Perdigon faces a mandatory statutory minimum sentence of ten years and a maximum of up to life in prison.
“Lopez-Perdigon moved significant quantities of cocaine each year using aircraft originating from Venezuela and destined for Africa, and via maritime smuggling routes from Ecuador to Mexico,” said DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart. “We applaud the continued support of the Panamanian and Colombian governments, and the combined efforts of DEA and our counterparts to dismantle his global drug trafficking organization.”
U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer stated, “The arrest and transfer of Lopez Perdigon to U.S. authorities to face narcotics trafficking charges in South Florida is the result of our long-standing cooperative partnership with the Colombian and Panamanian governments and law enforcement authorities. We certainly could not fight the war on drugs without the assistance and support of our international partners.”
The indictment of Lopez Perdigon is the result of an ongoing Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task (OCDETF) investigation led by DEA. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering organizations, and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply.
Mr. Ferrer commended the outstanding investigative efforts of DEA and their Colombian and Panamanian law enforcement partners. The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Kathleen Williams and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam Fels.
An indictment is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.