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Leader of El Paso drug-trafficking cell sentenced to 27 years in prison

EL PASO, Texas - A local man who supervised the transportation of illicit narcotic shipments from El Paso to various U.S. cities was sentenced to more than 27 years in federal prison Wednesday. This sentencing is the result of a six-year, joint investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Gabriel Alejandro Mendoza-Lucio, a high-ranking member of a drug trafficking organization, pleaded guilty in February to conspiring to possess with the intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine. U.S. District Judge Frank Montalvo sentenced Mendoza-Lucio to 327 months in prison and ordered him to pay a $25,000 fine.

Since at least 2003, Mendoza-Lucio supervised the sale and shipment of marijuana and cocaine from El Paso to areas throughout the United States including Pennsylvania, Atlanta, New York and Albuquerque, N.M. Mendoza-Lucio also supervised the transportation of millions of dollars in drug proceeds from these locations back to persons living in and operating from Mexico. His criminal organization employed a network of individuals to transport the drugs and proceeds.

"This sentence sends a strong message to members of drug trafficking networks who think they can do business while eluding the long arm of the law," said Manuel Oyola-Torres, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in El Paso.