BRIDGEPORT, CT — Rafael Lopez-Macias, 46, a twice deported citizen of Mexico illegally present in the United States, pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Victor A. Bolden in Bridgeport to narcotics trafficking and immigration offenses.
Lopez-Macias pleaded guilty to one count of possession with intent to distribute, and distribution of, 500 grams or more of methamphetamine, an offense that carries a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 10 years and a maximum term of imprisonment of life, and one count of reentry of removed alien, an offense that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years. A sentencing date is not scheduled.
Macias was among a group of 10 defendants charged in two federal indictments, unsealed on October 11, 2018, as part of a months long investigation by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force into a “large-scale poly drug trafficking organization” that encompassed New York and Connecticut. Law enforcement agencies involved in the investigation include the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, Connecticut State Police, and the New Rochelle, Norwalk and Stamford Police Departments.
The investigation into what the DEA New called a “family-run methamphetamine operation” culminated in a pre-dawn raid by federal agents and New Rochelle police at the Supermercado Mexico grocery store located at 100 Union Avenue in New Rochelle in a pre-dawn raid on October 11, 2018.
Seven of the defendants were charged in the White Plains federal court in the Southern District of New York with conspiracy to distribute five kilograms and more of cocaine and 50 grams and more of methamphetamine in and around New Rochelle, New York, since at least April 2018.
An additional three defendants, among them Rafael Lopez-Macias, a.k.a. “Raffa” and “Martin Sanchez,” were charged in New Haven federal court in the District of Connecticut with narcotics offenses, including conspiracy to distribute 500 grams and more of cocaine, according to a Federal Grand Jury Indictment filed the day before the Supermercado raid, on October 10, 2018.
The defendants charged in New Haven federal court each face a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison, and a mandatory minimum term of five years in prison.
By the time of the Supermercado raid Lopez-Macias had been in Federal custody for months. From March 2018 until June 2018, Lopez-Macias and the other two defendants engaged in drug trafficking.
On June 26, 2018, Lopez-Macias was stopped by law enforcement and arrested for an immigration violations as he began driving back to Norwalk from New Rochelle where he picked up a kilogram of methamphetamine from a co-conspirator. Officers searched the vehicle then seized the kilogram of methamphetamine and the vehicle, a Volkswagen Jetta. The New York Southern District indictment includes forfeiture of 100-102 Union Avenue and 57 Walnut Avenue.
Lopez-Macias has been detained since his arrest and faces deportation back to Mexico upon completion of his sentence in the United States.
According to court documents and statements made in court, in June 1998, Lopez-Macias was convicted in California state court of a cocaine trafficking offense. In February 2001, he was deported to Mexico. Lopez-Macias illegally reentered the U.S. and, in March 2009, was arrested in Connecticut for a forgery offense. In November 2009, he was again deported to Mexico.
Lopez-Macias again illegally reentered the U.S. and, between March and June 2018, he was intercepted on a court-authorized wiretap discussing the distribution of cocaine and methamphetamine. On June 11, 2018, in New Rochelle, New York, Lopez-Macias and a co-conspirator sold a kilogram of cocaine and a sample of methamphetamine for $31,500 to an individual working with law enforcement.