KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Law enforcement has secured another guilty plea in an ongoing investigation into cocaine trafficking and stolen cars involving nearly a dozen people in East Tennessee.

Juan Lopez Gallardo has now agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute 500 grams of cocaine. Gallardo is one of the 11 people who were arrested after an investigation into a 2020 drug trafficking ring between Florida to Tennessee.

Gallardo’s guilty plea states he sold cocaine and worked with others to sell cocaine including a controlled buy with a confidential source working with law enforcement.

The offense has a minimum sentence of five years imprisonment and a maximum of 40 years, in addition to a fine of up to $5 million and at least four years of supervised release. Gallardo officially entered the plea on Dec. 1. His sentencing is set for May 12.

Serguin Castro-Carias pleaded guilty to that same drug conspiracy charge. He was found with more than a pound of cocaine and told law enforcement he got that cocaine from Gallardo. He faces 5 to 40 years in prison and up to $5 million in fines. Sentencing is set for April 6, 2023.

James Hickman pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge on Oct. 27. He was sentenced to 34 months, running concurrently with sentences stemming from charges in Sevier and Blount County courts. He’ll also have to serve four years of supervised release.

Gallardo is connected to the pair of former Sevier County Deputy Clerks, Brandy Thornton and Roberta Allen, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy after being accused of taking cash payments and food items from Gallardo in exchange for motor vehicle registration and titles to the State of Tennessee.

Prosecutors said Gallardo and others ran an operation to steal cars in Miami, Florida and then sell them using the titles obtained in Tennessee. FBI agents raided the Sevier County Courthouse as part of the investigation.