Former Mexican Cop-Turned-Cartel Operative Gets Prison for Racketeering

Mario De La O Lopez

A federal judge in El Paso, Texas, sentenced former Chihuahua State Police Officer Mario De La O Lopez aka “Flaco” to 27 years in prison for his role in Sinaloa Cartel’s narcotics distribution operations. United States District Judge Frank Montalvo also ordered the defendant pay a $1,000 fine.

On June 15, 2017, Lopez pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organization statute (RICO). Lopez admitted to participating in the criminal enterprise from 2005 through 2009 by safeguarding and repackaging cocaine, weapons, and bulk cash shipments.

“The sentencing of Mario De La O Lopez is yet another strike against the powerful and violent drug trafficking organizations whose reach stretches across international borders and directly threatens our communities in the United States,” stated DEA El Paso Division Special Agent in Charge Kyle W. Williamson.

“This sentencing is a result of the ongoing partnership and collaboration between the FBI, DEA and international partners to bring to justice members of the Sinaloa Cartel,” said FBI Special Agent Emmerson Buie, Jr.

“When agencies work in concert, criminals cannot victimize residents and communities in the United States then hide behind shifting geographic jurisdictions,” stated ATF Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey C. Boshek, II.

Lopez was one of 24 high-ranking Sinaloa Cartel leaders, including Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera and Ismael Zambada Garcia (aka Mayo), indicted on federal racketeering charges in April 2012. To date, only De La O Lopez pleaded guilty in connection with the investigation into the criminal enterprise. Three defendants–Gabino Salas-Valenciano, Jesus Rodrigo Fierro-Ramirez, and Emigdio Martinez, Jr. — died since the indictment was returned in 2012. Twenty others remain in jeopardy. A trial is scheduled for November 2018.

The investigation resulted in the seizure of hundreds of kilograms of cocaine and thousands of pounds of marijuana in cities throughout the United States. Law enforcement also took possession of millions of U.S. dollars in drug proceeds which were destined for returned to the cartel in Mexico. Agents and officers likewise seized hundreds of weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition intended for smuggling into the battle for Juarez.

Robert Arce is a retired Phoenix Police detective with extensive experience working Mexican organized crime and street gangs. Arce has worked in the Balkans, Iraq, Haiti, and recently completed a three-year assignment in Monterrey, Mexico, working out of the Consulate for the United States Department of State, International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Program, where he was the Regional Program Manager for Northeast Mexico (Coahuila, Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, Durango, San Luis Potosi, Zacatecas.) You can follow him on Twitter. He can be reached at