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Mexican man sentenced to 20 years in prison for conspiracy to possess and distribute cocaine

Lengthy sentence sends deterrent message to other gang leaders

LAKE CHARLES, La. - A member of the Chapa gang was sentenced here in federal court yesterday to 20 years in prison and five years of supervised release for conspiracy to possess and distribute cocaine and other controlled substances, following a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) investigation.

Jose Gutierrez, 37, a Mexican national, was sentenced on March 2 in the Western District of Louisiana by the Honorable Judge Patricia Minaldi. Judge Minaldi also ordered that after incarceration, Gutierrez be deported to Mexico.

"This sentence should serve as a warning of the consequences awaiting individuals who engage in large-scale criminal activity that puts Americans at risk," said Raymond R. Parmer Jr., acting special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in New Orleans. "As a member of the Chapa organization operating in this area, Gutierrez conducted himself with brazen impunity. Knowing that he will be spending many years behind bars is gratifying for ICE and the other local and international law enforcement agencies that worked tirelessly to see justice served in this case."

The case against Gutierrez was the result of an extensive investigation by ICE agents and the Louisiana State Police (LSP) as part of the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). ICE agents initiated the cocaine smuggling investigation.

In August 2006 and again in March 2009, a federal grand jury in the Western District of Louisiana indicted Francisco Chapa-Duran, of Mexico, along with Gutierrez and 17 additional defendants. The eight-count indictment charged the defendants with violations to include conspiracy, possession of a controlled substance, possession of a firearm during a crime and conducting a continuing criminal enterprise. Of the19 defendants, 13 have pleaded guilty, two were convicted in a jury trial, one is currently awaiting trial and three remain fugitives in Mexico.

Chapa-Duran was identified as the main target and supplier of cocaine coming into the United States. Gutierrez was identified as a cocaine courier and facilitator for the Chapa smuggling organization.

Gutierrez was responsible, as a mid-level manager, for coordinating the smuggling and transportation of multi-kilograms shipments of cocaine from Mexico to Georgia. In addition to getting the cocaine to Georgia, Gutierrez ensured that the money used to purchase the cocaine was returned to Mexico.