Mounting a criminal defense in complex drug conspiracy and wiretap cases requires a high level of legal expertise; as well as a willingness to aggressively hold the government accountable for its actions. Such was the case in 2010 when Mark Johnson undertook the defense of Gerardo Lopez, whom the federal government claimed was a member of a dangerous street gang known as MS-13.
Lopez was charged with engaging in a nationwide drug conspiracy along with other purported members of MS-13. The arrest of Lopez was covered in the Denver Post in an article entitled, “FBI, cops bust gang branch” that appeared on February 25, 2009. State and federal law enforcement authorities took credit for having quashed the MS-13 gang movement in Colorado. The Rocky Mountain News carried a similar article on February 24, 2009 under the title, “Gang dealt blow in Colorado busts.”
Johnson spent hundreds of hours analyzing thousands of telephone conversations between Lopez and other alleged gang members that were intercepted by federal agents pursuant to a magistrate judge’s wiretap order. In court filings, Johnson challenged the truthfulness of the testimony that federal agents presented to the grand jury based on the intercepted calls. Johnson sought the dismissal of charges against Lopez due to governmental misconduct.
Those court battles culminated with the voluntary dismissal of the indictment against all six defendants in the wiretap case. On March 10, 2011, the Aurora (Colorado) Sentinel carried an article recounting the case: “Charges dropped in massive MS-13 gang bust.” The Denver Post carried a similar article describing the allegations of misconduct by federal law enforcement in both the investigation and the grand jury process that ultimately led to the decision by federal prosecutors to drop the charges: “Federal case against six alleged MS-13 gang members dismissed.”