Defendant Apprehended and Prosecuted as Part of “Operation Black Sails,” A Coordinated Drug Investigation of Federal, Local, and Guatemalan Law Enforcement
A Guatemalan national who operated an international drug trafficking ring received a life sentence, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei.
Wilson Wilfredo Luargas-Garcia, a/k/a “Primazo,” 44, was convicted on Sep. 18, 2019, to conspiracy to manufacture and distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine for distribution into the United States. On Oct. 18, 2021, after a full-day sentencing hearing that stretched into the late evening hours, U.S. District Judge Amos L. Mazzant sentenced Luargas-Garcia to a term of life imprisonment.
According to information presented in court, Luargas-Garcia was a prolific drug trafficker, responsible for the trafficking of large amounts of cocaine to drug cartels and guerrilla fighters in Central and South America. He coordinated shipments with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (also known as the FARC), one of Colombia’s largest and most violent rebel groups. Luargas-Garcia, who had a reputation for employing violence against his rivals, used illicit proceeds from his drug sales to acquire weapons and to train his personal paramilitary security guards.
In April 2018, Luargas-Garcia was extradited to the Eastern District of Texas to face drug charges. Despite being in custody, however, he continued to run his drug trafficking organization from various local jails. Fellow inmates helped to facilitate Luargas-Garcia’s drug operation by smuggling cell phones and other contraband into the jail facilities. Federal investigators teamed with the Smith County Sheriff’s Office and the Guatemalan Ministerio Público to uncover these activities and dismantle the drug operation. In retaliation, Luargas-Garcia threatened to kill a federal prosecutor.
“Mr. Luargas-Garcia’s sentence sends a strong message that international drug traffickers are not safe from prosecution simply because they reside overseas,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei. “EDTX will continue to be aggressive in its efforts to extradite and prosecute international drug traffickers and to stop their deadly shipments from ever making it to American shores.”
“Today, Mr. Luargas-Garcia is being held responsible for actions he took thousands of miles away that have a direct impact on our neighborhoods and our families,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Eduardo A. Chávez. “Criminals who attempt to broker and facilitate cocaine shipments into the United States will meet swift justice through DEA Dallas’ tireless efforts to dismantle these Transnational Criminal Organizations across the world.”
“The sentence is a remarkable success,” said Gerson Russell Alegría Meza, Chief Prosecutor for narcotics in Guatemala. “The fundamental strategy to fight against drug trafficking is to work in a safe, immediate, coordinated, and effective manner between the United States and Guatemala.”
This effort is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (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.
The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Homeland Security Investigations, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Smith County Sherriff’s Office, and the Fiscalia de Delitos de Narcoactividad, Ministerio Publico, Guatemala. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs provided significant assistance in securing his extradition from Guatemala.