International drug trafficking lands man 11 years in fed prison

Eastern District of Texas
An Eastern District of Texas Courthouse sits in downtown Sherman.

A Costa Rican man was sentenced to federal prison for drug trafficking violations in the Eastern District of Texas.

Felipe Espinoza-Cruz, 49, pleaded guilty on Feb. 3, 2021 to conspiracy to manufacture and distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine for distribution into the United States and was sentenced to 135 months in federal prison today by U.S. District Judge Sean D. Jordan.

“As this case demonstrates, drug smugglers will use any transportation method they can to bring their deadly wares to our shores,” Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei said.  “Although the transportation network these traffickers devised and implemented was extraordinarily vast and complex, our law enforcement partners were able to identify and disrupt it, and ultimately bring the perpetrators to justice in United States courts.  This case is nothing less than a tremendous win for the American people.”

“Drug trafficking, whether on one of our local street corners or on the open sea 1500 nautical miles away still impacts the safety and security of all of our lives,” said Eduardo A. Chávez, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Dallas Field Division.  “This sentence reflects our continued resolve to partner with our international law-enforcement counterparts to fight greed, violence, and drug addiction as we continue to combat the crises we face daily.”

According to information presented in court, from at least 2005 and continuing up until his indictment, Espinoza-Cruz, a resident and national of Costa Rica, was a member of a drug trafficking organization responsible for multi-ton cocaine shipments originating in Colombia and  then shipped to Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Mexico for further distribution to the United States.  Airplanes, go-fast boats, semi-tractor trailer trucks, and passenger vehicles were used to transport most of the cocaine shipments.  A federal grand jury returned an indictment charging Espinoza-Cruz with federal drug trafficking violations on Nov. 10, 2016.

This effort is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at https://www.justice.gov/OCDETF.