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Mexican national sentenced to 29 years in prison for distributing cocaine

MCALLEN, Texas — A Mexican national was sentenced on Friday to 348 months imprisonment for possessing with intent to distribute about 72 kilograms of cocaine, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, Southern District of Texas. The investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the McAllen Police Department (MPD).

Octavio Lopez-Ramos, 29, was charged in September 2010 and later pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance. On Feb. 3, Chief U.S. District Judge Ricardo H. Hinojosa sentenced Lopez-Ramos to 29 years in prison, followed by a five-year term of supervised release.

At his Dec. 3, 2010 plea hearing, Lopez-Ramos admitted that on Aug. 26, 2010 he had possessed with the intent to distribute about 72 kilograms (158 lbs.) of cocaine. MPD officers and HSI special agents discovered the cocaine while they were executing a search warrant at Lopez-Ramos' residence.

In arriving at the lengthy prison term, the court took into consideration, among other things, that Lopez-Ramos' criminal history fell within the career-offender provision of the sentencing guidelines. He had previously been convicted in Texas of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance and two counts of aggravated kidnapping in 2007. Furthermore, at the time of Lopez-Ramos' August 2010 arrest, he was a fugitive from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) after escaping from its custody in April 2010. At the time of his escape, Lopez-Ramos was serving a 12-year prison term for the 2007 drug conviction and a 20-year prison term for the 2007 aggravated kidnapping convictions which were being served concurrently.

Lopez-Ramos has been in custody without bond since his arrest. He will remain in federal custody to serve his sentence. After he completes his federal prison sentence, he will be returned to the TDCJ to serve the remainder of his state sentence. Afterwards, Lopez-Ramos will be deported.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Linda Requénez, Southern District of Texas, prosecuted the case.