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Narcotics
05/23/2013

Maryland leader of Guatemalan drug ring sentenced to 15 years in prison

GREENBELT, Md. – A Guatemalan man residing in Hyattsville, Md., was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison followed by five years of supervised release for the distribution of more than 150 kilograms of cocaine.

Edwin Galvez-Berganza, 30, was sentenced by Chief U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow for conspiring to distribute cocaine, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Washington Field Division and the Montgomery County Police Department.

"This sentence is a great example of HSI’s mission to identify international drug traffickers and disrupt and dismantle their criminal operations in the United States," said HSI Baltimore Special Agent in Charge William Winter. "Let there be no mistake, drug trafficking organizations are reaching right here into our homes and communities in Maryland and HSI remains committed to working with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners to combat these criminal organizations that want to profit from poisoning our children and destroying our way of life."

According to his guilty plea, from 2005 to 2009 Berganza was a leader of a cocaine trafficking ring. Cocaine was flown from Guatemala to the United States, driven to Connecticut and then hidden in trailer hitches and driven from Connecticut to Berganza and his co-conspirators in Maryland. Each trailer hitch contained 3.5 kilograms of cocaine, which Berganza and his co-conspirators removed with a saw. Berganza also received cocaine that was hidden in candy. Berganza distributed the cocaine to co-conspirators and others.

In November 2006, law enforcement officers arrested two conspirators as they were transporting approximately 20 kilograms of cocaine from Connecticut to Berganza in Maryland. Two days later, Berganza fled the United States to Guatemala to avoid arrest. While in Guatemala, Berganza continued to ship packages of cocaine from Guatemala to Silver Spring, Md. Berganza was later captured.

Six defendants have pleaded guilty and been sentenced to up to 10 years in prison.

This Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mara Zusman Greenberg and James A. Crowell in the District of Maryland.