Accused Big Isle drug trafficker was deported 4 times

2016 March 8 - CTY Kauai - Kaua‘i police seized over seven pounds of methamphetamine from a Hanamā‘ulu home. Steve Orozco II and Andrew Martinez were arrested. Hanamaulu meth

A Mexican national deported from the United States four times is charged with using an assault rifle while dealing methamphetamine and heroin on Hawaii Island.

Juan Carlos Espinoza Lopez, also known as Juan Carlos Espinoza, was arraigned Tuesday in U.S. District court with the help of a Spanish interpreter.


Lopez was charged by criminal complaint May 10 with possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine, possession with intent to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin, possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, possession of a firearm by a felon, possession of a firearm by an alien and reentry of removed alien.

Lopez has allegedly used an array of avenues to enter the U.S., including using a fake California birth certificate.

On April 27, the U.S. Marshals Service, Hawaii Police Department and Homeland Security Investigations personnel were looking for fugitives with outstanding warrants in Ocean View, according to an affidavit authored by a Homeland Security Investigations special agent.

As law enforcement officers arrived at a home on Pueo Road, two police officers saw Lopez “fleeing from the rear of the residence in the direction of a lava field towards the rear of the property.”

The officers ran after Lopez and told him to stop.

Lopez was seen carrying “a red and white thermos and a plastic bag before running behind a group of trees,” according to the complaint.

Lopez “emerged from behind the trees with his hands up” and was detained. A language barrier prevented officers from immediately identifying him.

During a field interview, it was determined that Lopez is a “citizen of Mexico and does not have lawful status” to be in the U.S.

Officers searched the lava field, and about 65 feet from where they found Lopez, a bag with about 188.5 grams of methamphetamine was allegedly found. In the thermos, 206 grams of heroin was allegedly stored.

Officers found a car key, and Lopez acknowledged it was for his car.

Officers searched the home on Pueo Road and allegedly found a black Colt AR-15 A2 rifle loaded with a magazine containing 27 .223-caliber bullets.

“The rifle was located in a bedroom next to a bed and propped up against the wall. The bedroom contained two bottles of medication on a shelf with a label bearing the name ‘Juan Espinoza’ and a bag containing $1,977 US currency along with multiple identification documents for Juan Carlos Espinoza Lopez,” according to federal court documents.

Lopez allegedly admitted “he did not have permission from the United States government to re-enter the United States after his most recent removal in 2022 but stated that he thought he could be in the United States if he stayed out of trouble.”

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