TAMPA — Maria Chapa Lopez, who has served as the U.S. Attorney for the Tampa-based Middle District of Florida since 2018, announced her resignation late Friday, along with other top federal prosecutors nationwide.
The move comes weeks after Acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson asked all 56 U.S. Attorneys appointed by former President Donald Trump to resign. In recent years it has become common for U.S. Attorneys appointed by Republican or Democratic chief executives to resign when a president of the other party takes office.
“It has been my honor to serve with a fantastic group of federal, state and local law enforcement partners,” Chapa Lopez said in a statement. “Together, we have done great work to protect our communities here in the (Middle District of Florida).”
Chapa Lopez was appointed by Trump as the interim U.S. Attorney in January 2018, after the resignation the previous year of A. Lee Bentley. She was formally nominated and confirmed by the U.S. Senate later that year.
Her departure caps a 32-year career in government service, including 21 years with the Department of Justice.
Chapa Lopez earned a law degree in 1986 from the South Texas College of Law. She served in the U.S. Army, attaining the rank of lieutenant colonel. She became a federal prosecutor in 2000 and later served as the Department of Justice Deputy Attache to the U.S. Embassy in Mexico.
Her legal career put her on the front lines of international drug trafficking prosecutions, large-scale money laundering operations, and complex opioid cases. As the top prosecutor for the region, Chapa Lopez led an office that brought more than 500 violent crimes and firearms cases, more than 100 opioid trafficking cases, and prioritized child exploitation and human trafficking prosecutions.
It is not yet clear who will replace Chapa Lopez. But several names have floated among the local community in recent weeks.
Biden will have to nominate an official replacement, who will then undergo confirmation in the U.S. Senate.
The Middle District of Florida covers 35 counties stretching from Jacksonville to Naples.