July 02, 2013
Contact: Erica C. Curry
Phone Number: (602) 664-5600
Four Patagonia Drug Traffickers Sentenced To Serve A Combined Term Of 32 Years In Prison
Over 40 defendants charged and more than 6,200 pounds of marijuana seized
TUCSON, Ariz. - On July 1, 2013, Patagonia, Arizona residents Fabian Monge, 34, Isabel Monge-Sierras, 43, Mary (Monge) Carlson, 32, and Frank Lopez, 49 were sentenced by U.S. District Judge Raner C. Collinsto serve terms of imprisonment of 12.5 years, 7 years, 5 years, and 7.5 years, respectively. After the conclusion of a three-week trial, on September 27, 2012, a federal jury found the defendants guilty of conspiring to possess with the intent to distribute over 1,000 kilograms of marijuana. Fabian Monge was additionally found guilty of two separate counts of aiding and abetting the possession with intent to distribute over 100 kilograms of marijuana. Frances Monge was acquitted at trial.
"For years, Fabian Monge operated a family run drug trafficking organization with impunity," said DEA Special Agent in Charge Doug Coleman. “Their sentencing is another example that DEA and its law enforcement partners will use every tool at our disposal to identify and bring to justice those individuals who think they will never have to pay the price for their illegal activity". From the kingpins to the street dealers, our combined goal is to disrupt and dismantle drug trafficking organizations and put them out of business."
“This successful prosecution reflects our cooperation with our law enforcement partners in combating drug trafficking organizations that choose to operate in our smaller Arizona communities. These prison terms represent a significant blow to this organization and sends a message to those who work at all levels of such drug trafficking organizations that they will be held accountable,” said U.S. Attorney John S. Leonardo, “I want to thank the federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies for their team effort in this investigation.”
The trial testimony showed that the Monge family, from Patagonia, belonged to a family-run Drug Trafficking (DTO) which was led by Fabian Monge and closely followed by his older sister Isabel Santos-(Monge). Their younger sister Mary Francis (Monge) also played a role in the DTO and Frank Lopez was one of the stash house operators for the organization. Witnesses testified that the Monge DTO have been smuggling marijuana from Mexico into the United States and transporting the bulk marijuana to Tucson and Phoenix since at least 2006. The Monge DTO was responsible for trafficking multi-ton quantities of marijuana from Patagonia until their arrests in 2010.
Collectively, this conspiracy investigation resulted in over 40 defendants charged in federal court in separate indictments comprising of coordinators, stash house operators, marijuana load drivers, and individuals who registered vehicles for the DTO. This investigation was a collaborative effort initiated by DEA-Nogales, U.S. Border Patrol-Sonoita, Cochise County Sheriff’s Office, the Sierra Vista Police Department, and the Patagonia Police Department. The prosecution was handled by Liza M. Granoff and Jeffrey D. Martino, Assistant U.S. Attorneys, District of Arizona, Tucson.