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Judge: Chad F. Kenney
Court: United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia County)
Plaintiff's Attorney: United States Attorney’s Office
Description: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania criminal lawyer represented Defendant charged with possession with intend to distribute drugs.
In March 2021, the Manel Lopez Avitia, age 45, a Mexican national, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl and two counts of possession with intent to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl, and aiding and abetting. The charges stemmed from the defendant’s role as the leader of a nationwide fentanyl trafficking organization, which distributed approximately 27 kilograms of fentanyl in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania from at least one known stash house in Whitehall Township, PA, and other locations across the country, from May 2017 to March 2019.
“Drug addiction and the distribution operations that enable it are at epidemic levels in Philadelphia, Allentown, Reading and other cities and towns across our District, so we are aggressively prosecuting those responsible for the surge,” said U.S. Attorney Romero. “Lopez-Avitia and others associated with this organization pumped large quantities of deadly fentanyl into neighborhoods across the country, putting many people’s lives at risk. We want to thank our law enforcement partners in this case for their hard work and dedication.”
“Lopez-Avitia was responsible for trafficking 27 kilograms of fentanyl across our region and the country over a two-year period where illicit fentanyl ravaged our communities,” said Thomas Hodnett, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Philadelphia Field Division. “Illicit fentanyl continues to plague our streets today; Lopez-Avitia rightly deserves this lengthy federal prison sentence for his drug-trafficking activities.”
This prosecution is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.
The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration and Bensalem Police Department, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Francis A. Weber.
Outcome: Defendant was sentenced to 15 years and one month in prison, followed by five years of supervised release.