February 11, 2020
Contact: SA Elaine Cesare
Phone Number: (571) 324-7520
Guatemalan Attorney General Visits Eastern District of Texas
Joint Efforts to Defuse Transnational Criminal Organizations Operating Between the United States and Guatemala
PLANO, Texas – Attorney General Maria Consuelo Porras Argueta, of the Republic of Guatemala, joined United States Attorney Joseph D. Brown, Director of the Department of Justice's Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces Adam Cohen, and Drug Enforcement Administration Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Dallas Field Division Guy Baker in the Eastern District of Texas today to discuss investigations and advancements in joint efforts to curtail transnational criminal organizations operating between the United States and Guatemala.
During the meeting, officials discussed the surrender and extradition of Erik Salvador Suniga Rodriguez, also known as “El Pocho.” Suniga Rodriguez was indicted by a federal grand jury on June 13, 2018, in the Eastern District of Texas and charged with drug and money laundering violations. The mayor of Ayutla, a town on the border with Mexico, Suniga Rodriguez surrendered to U.S. Drug Enforcement agents in Guatemala on Dec. 19, 2019, and was extradited to McKinney, Texas. His trial is scheduled to begin in the federal courthouse in Plano.
Suniga Rodriguez has been identified by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control as a significant foreign narcotics trafficker pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act. As a result, all assets in which Suniga Rodriguez has an interest in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to OFAC. OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all dealings by U.S. persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of blocked persons.
“We are very appreciative of the cooperation of the government of Guatemala as we jointly fight narco-trafficking,” said United States Attorney Joseph D. Brown. “Attorney General Porras visit shows her country’s commitment to standing up against the drug cartels and her recognition that both of our countries benefit when we move aggressively against these criminal organizations. We have excellent juries and judges in East Texas that do not tolerate crime and these kinds of international prosecutions are one of our priorities.”
“This case highlights the importance of law enforcement coordination and information sharing,” said OCDETF Director Adam Cohen. “By coordinating effort and leveraging resources, we are able to disrupt and dismantle the operations of criminal networks that pose the greatest threat to our communities and to the Nation.”
“Criminals who attempt to stay above the law through positions of public trust will meet swift justice through DEA’s tireless efforts to dismantle Transnational Criminal Organizations across the world,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Eduardo A. Chavez. “We applaud the bravery and resolve of our Guatemalan counterparts to remain committed to the rule of law and the DEA will continue to work together to ensure consequences come to those who profit from illicit drugs in our neighborhoods.”
This case is the result of an extensive joint investigation by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces. OCDETF agents and prosecutors handle complex investigations and prosecutions of the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, and other priority transnational criminal organizations that threaten the citizens of the United States.
The Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs provided significant assistance in securing the defendant’s return from Guatemala. This case is being investigated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Colleen Bloss.