Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced the conviction in Manhattan federal court of OMAR LOPEZ CASTRO for his participation in a cocaine trafficking scheme between 2018 and 2022. The jury convicted LOPEZ CASTRO following a one-week trial before U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel. Sentencing of LOPEZ CASTRO is scheduled for February 22, 2024.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “The unanimous jury verdict holds Omar Lopez Castro accountable for his leadership role in a widespread cocaine trafficking organization that flooded the streets with hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of cocaine. After serving a 10-year sentence for a prior SDNY cocaine trafficking conviction, Lopez Castro returned to trafficking hundreds of kilograms of his cocaine, this time hidden inside of furniture. He now faces the prospect of a lengthy prison sentence for his crime.”
According to the allegations contained in the Superseding Indictment and the evidence presented in court during the trial:
LOPEZ CASTRO was a member of a drug trafficking organization (“DTO”) that engaged in a cocaine-trafficking scheme between 2018 and 2022 involving the concealment of cocaine inside custom-built furniture. Between in or about September 2018 and October 2022, the DTO sent more than 30 shipments of cargo from Puerto Rico to the continental United States. The cocaine was concealed in more than approximately 80 custom cube-shaped coffee tables or other furniture. While the organization falsely represented that the cargo contained furniture, that furniture in fact concealed hundred-kilogram quantities of cocaine. During the course of the investigation, law enforcement seized approximately 350 kilograms of cocaine from four of the DTO’s shipments. In total, the DTO shipped approximately 4,500 kilograms of cocaine, worth at least $135,000,000 on the street. Many of the organization’s shipments were sent to addresses in the Southern District of New York including in Yonkers and the Bronx. Others were sent up and down the East Coast.
LOPEZ CASTRO was a Puerto Rico-based member of the DTO who owned approximately 274 kilograms of cocaine shipped from Puerto Rico to New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Soon after his release from federal prison from a prior conviction in the Southern District of New York for trafficking cocaine from Puerto Rico to New York, LOPEZ CASTRO connected with other members of the DTO and hired the DTO members to ship his cocaine inside of custom-built furniture. All told, the street value of cocaine that LOPEZ CASTRO owned and trafficked was more than $8 million.
* * *
LOPEZ CASTRO, 48, of Carolina, Puerto Rico, was found guilty of conspiring to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute narcotics, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison.
The statutory minimum and maximum sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.
This prosecution is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (“OCDETF”) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at https://www.justice.gov/OCDETF.
Mr. Williams praised the outstanding investigative work of the New York City Police Department; the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; and the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations in this investigation.
The prosecution is being handled by the Office’s Narcotics Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Juliana N. Murray and Andrew Jones, with the assistance of Paralegal Specialists Jacqueline Hauck and Sabrina Jim Munoz, are in charge of the prosecution.