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Major Cocaine Distribution Network Busted in Tampa: Two Men Face Life in Prison


TAMPA, FLORIDA - In a significant blow to drug trafficking operations, two men have been charged with serious cocaine offenses following an extensive multi-agency investigation. United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg announced the unsealing of an indictment against Santiago Gonzalez-Rodriguez, 58, from Louisville, KY, and Elier Sanchez-Suasteque, 37, from Lehigh Acres.


The indictment, which was recently made public, charges both Gonzalez-Rodriguez and Sanchez-Suasteque with conspiracy to possess and possession with the intent to distribute over 5 kilograms of cocaine. This substantial amount indicates a major drug operation, with both individuals now facing the severe possibility of life imprisonment if convicted on all counts. Additionally, the indictment includes a forfeiture clause, allowing the United States to seize any assets derived from the proceeds of their alleged offenses.


According to details of the indictment, between September 23 and October 2, 2023, the accused conspired to distribute this significant quantity of cocaine. On October 2, they were found in possession of over 5 kilograms of the drug in Tampa, confirming their active involvement in the narcotics trade.


It is important to note that an indictment is a formal charge and not an indication of guilt. Both Gonzalez-Rodriguez and Sanchez-Suasteque are presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.


This case was the result of a collaborative investigation by several law enforcement agencies, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Florida Highway Patrol, Homeland Security Investigations, and the Tampa Police Department. The prosecution of the case will be managed by Assistant United States Attorneys Maria Guzman and Brooke Padgett.


The charges reflect the ongoing commitment of federal and state law enforcement agencies to combat drug trafficking in Florida. This case serves as a stern reminder of the severe consequences facing those who choose to engage in the illegal drug trade. The collaborative efforts of multiple agencies underline the seriousness with which drug offenses are treated and the determination of law enforcement to bring those involved to justice.

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