56-year-old David Lopez will most likely spend the rest of his life in prison after he was sentenced to more than 24 years in federal prison after he was convicted on drug conspiracy and possession charges.
The Federal prosecutors revealed that Lopez had been shipping weed from El Paso to cities in the U.S. from 2001 until August 2015, and he was linked to busts in Texas, New Mexico, and Kansas where police seized over 3,300 kilos of pot.
It turns out that Lopez owned several trucking companies, and he was nabbed after he tried to hire a DEA informant and an undercover officer to transport marijuana for him.
The Special Agent in Charge of the DEA’s El Paso Division, Will Glaspy, said in a statement that Lopez’s sentence sends a strong and unified message that drug dealing, at all levels, will not be tolerated, and, in turn, we are making our communities safer.
Lopez had no link to any act of violence. However, he had a relatively small amount of cocaine in his evidence list that was seized during the investigation, but he was only charged with selling marijuana.
The lengthy sentence was as a result of federal rules that require mandatory minimums for drug conspiracy charges. Prosecutors also sought additional time because Lopez was previously convicted of felony marijuana possession in Missouri in 1995.
Lopez’s case was opened under the Obama administration, which had moved to lessen sentences for nonviolent drug offenders at the federal level as part of a broader criminal justice reform effort. Now under the leadership of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the Department of Justice is cracking down and subjecting more drug defendants to mandatory minimums.
The new policy has been criticized with claims that it will start the war on drugs and lead to more low-level, nonviolent drug offenders spending longer stretches in federal prison, but Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said Friday that prosecutors will still be able to decide when to file charges that carry a mandatory minimum.
Lopez will join the club of so-called marijuana lifers, a group of at least 16 inmates known to be serving life or “de facto life” sentences for marijuana charges.