Photo: Gilberto Lerma Plata
Gilberto Lerma Plata, a former police commander of Tamaulipas state and a member of the Gulf cartel, was found guilty of conspiring to import several tons of marijuana and cocaine to the United States, the Justice Department said.
Lerma Plata, 50, was ruled guilty of the charges filed against him in July 2011 at a federal court hearing Friday before Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly.
On July 29, 2011, Lerma Plata was accused of conspiring to manufacture and distribute at least 5 kilos (11 pounds) of cocaine and 1,000 kilos (1 1/5 tons) of marijuana, for their subsequent importation to the United States, the Justice Department said in a communique.
Lerma Plata was arrested in McAllen, Texas, on May 9, 2012, and according to Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, instead of working to protect citizens from harm, this man “abused his power to further the notorious Gulf cartel’s violent narcotics trafficking operations.”
For her part, Administrator Michele M. Leonhart of the Drug Enforcement Administration, or DEA, said that by using “operatives” like Lerma Plata, “the Gulf cartel has smuggled huge amounts of dangerous drugs into the United States for far too long, while using violence, intimidation and public corruption to strengthen their ability to traffic drugs.”
According to documents presented before the court, Lerma Plata was on the payroll of the Gulf cartel while working for the Tamaulipas state police and “abused his power to further the notorious Gulf cartel’s violent narcotics trafficking operations,” Raman said.
The authorities discovered, by means of intercepted phone calls, that Lerma Plata and high-ranking members of the Gulf cartel discussed the shipment of large quantities of marijuana for distribution in the United States, “as well as the transportation from the United States of proceeds from the sales of the drugs and firearms.”
The communique did not specify when the sentence will be handed down in the case.