MOBILE, Alabama – A Texas resident who participated in a major cocaine smuggling operation got a big break today, winning a five-year prison sentence in a case that originally called for a minimum term of at least 20 years.
Victor Lupo-Angulo pleaded guilty in January to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine. He agreed he was accountable for 120 kilograms, or 265 pounds, of the drug.
Lupo-Angulo was one of several people accused of working for a drug enterprise that investigators contended was headed by a woman named Claudia Perez-Leal from her Houston-area home.
Senior U.S. District Judge Charles Butler Jr. sentenced Perez-Leal in July to 18 years in prison. She had admitted that she smuggled cocaine across the border of Mexico and shipped it to Alabama and other places from late 2008 until summer 2010.
According to court records, Lupo-Angula identified Perez-Leal and her husband, Luis Daniel Perez-Leal, as his suppliers. Prosecutors asked that Lupo-Angula’s sentence be reduced by 50 percent from the minimum under advisory guidelines.
“What I argued is that due to his high degree of cooperation, he should get more than 50 percent,” defense attorney Christ Coumanis said.
Coumanis also noted that his client has a clear criminal record under federal guidelines and no history of violence.
“Mr. Lupo-Angulo didn’t have a gun, didn’t assault anyone, didn’t hurt anyone,” Coumanis said. “And the most important factor, he cooperated.”
Arkansas State Police discovered during an arrest of Lupo-Angulo in September of last year that the defendant had an arrest warrant on a federal indictment. At the time, he had a kilogram of cocaine, $102,000 in cash and three cell phones.
An informant had told Homeland Security Investigations agents that a truck driver named “Mi Grande” made regular trips to Mobile to drop off drugs and pick up money, court records show.
Investigators determined that Lupo-Angulo was “Mi Grande” by examining motel records from May 2010.
Lupo-Angulo told agents that he had made two trips to Mobile, delivering a total of nine kilograms of cocaine, according to the plea agreement.
Coumanis said his client, a native of Colombia, is a legal U.S. resident by virtue of his marriage to an American. But he said Lupo-Angulo may be deported after his prison sentence.
“He was struggling financially and ended up meeting the Perezes and got involved in this through the Perezes,” he said.
By Brendan Kirby | firstname.lastname@example.org