Two Tampa Residents Found Guilty of Drug Trafficking and Possession of Illegal Firearms

A federal jury has reached a verdict in the case of two individuals from Tampa, Elias Xavier Rosario Torres, aged 26, and Veronica Estefania Rodriguez Pinuela, aged 23. They have been found guilty of several charges related to drug trafficking and possession of illegal firearms.

United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg made the announcement regarding the verdict. The charges include possession with intent to distribute fentanyl and over 500 grams of cocaine, as well as possession of a machine gun in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Additionally, Rosario Torres was convicted of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute fentanyl and cocaine, along with possessing a firearm as a convicted felon.

The pair now faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 35 years in federal prison, up to a possible life sentence. The indictment against Rosario Torres and Rodriguez Pinuela was issued by a federal grand jury on October 25, 2022.

During the trial, evidence revealed that on March 8, 2022, Tampa Police Department officers stopped Rosario Torres and Rodriguez Pinuela for a traffic violation. Upon searching the defendants, officers discovered two backpacks containing nearly a kilogram of cocaine, 16 grams of fentanyl, a Glock 23 handgun, two loaded magazines, and extra ammunition. Notably, the Glock 23 had been modified with a chip to function as a machine gun. Rosario Torres, at the time of the offense, was already a convicted felon, with a previous conviction for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, making his possession of a firearm illegal under federal law.

The investigation into this case was conducted jointly by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Tampa Police Department.

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