MICHAEL J. GARCIA, the United States Attorney for the
Southern District of New York, announced that BYRON BERGANZA — aGuatemalan cocaine kingpin captured in El Salvador in 2003 — was
sentenced today by United States District Judge THOMAS P. GRIESA
to 262 months in prison on charges of conspiring to import
millions of dollars’ worth of cocaine into the United States from
Colombia and Central America. According to documents filed and
statements made in Manhattan federal court:
BERGANZA was involved in the trafficking of over 20
tons of cocaine, beginning in 1988 and including a 70-kilogram
shipment to the United States which BERGANZA planned in 2002.
One of BERGANZA’s 2002 co-conspirators later informed the Drug
Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) in El Salvador of the
shipment, resulting in an undercover investigation of BERGANZA by
DEA agents in El Salvador and New York. BERGANZA was arrested in
September 2003 as he traveled to El Salvador to meet with the
informant about an additional 500-kilogram shipment of cocaine.
In determining the sentence, Judge GRIESA found that
BERGANZA conspired to transport at least as much as the highest
quantity of cocaine categorized by the United States Sentencing
Guidelines (150 kilograms). He also found that BERGANZA was a
leader and organizer of criminal activity. In imposing the
sentence of just under 22 years in prison, Judge GRIESA noted
that people had died, or at least died prematurely, as a result
of the large quantities of cocaine BERGANZA was responsible for
Mr. GARCIA praised the work of the DEA’s New York
Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Strike Force and its San
Salvador, El Salvador Country Office, which, with the Office’s
International Narcotics Trafficking Unit, jointly led the
investigation of BERGANZA; as well as the DEA’s Guatemala City
Country Office, which also assisted in the investigation. He
also praised the efforts of the New York Drug Enforcement Task
Force, which is comprised of agents and officers of the DEA, New
York City Police Department, and New York State Police. Mr.
GARCIA also thanked the El Salvadoran National Police for its
assistance in the investigation and arrest of BERGANZA.
The prosecution was handled by the Office’s
International Narcotics Trafficking Unit.