JUNE 14 (ALPINE, Texas) -Two men face federal drug trafficking charges related to the discovery of more than 480 pounds of marijuana on a Van Horn Independent School District (ISD) school bus last year announced United States Attorney Robert Pitman and DEA-El Paso Division Special Agent in Charge Joseph M. Arabit.
A two-count federal grand jury indictment, returned Tuesday in Pecos, TX, and unsealed following their arrests yesterday, charges 22–year-old Anthony Paredez-Juarez of Odessa, TX, and 20–year-old George Jacob Cosme-Baird of Presidio, TX, with one count of attempted possession of between 100 kilograms and 1,000 kilograms of marijuana and one count of possession with intent to distribute between 100 kilograms and 1,000 kilograms of marijuana within 1,000 feet of a school, namely Presidio High School.
The indictment stems from an investigation resulting from a marijuana seizure on November 19, 2012, at a convenience store in Marfa, TX. Earlier in the day, the school bus was used to transport students from Van Horn to Presidio, TX, for a basketball game and was now en route back to Van Horn. According to authorities, the bus driver alerted U.S. Border Patrol agents, who were also at the convenience store, when he noticed several duffle bags in the bay area of the bus which were not there when they departed Van Horn. The agents took possession of the duffle bags after discovering the marijuana inside.
RAC Bernie Bolf during a press conference in Alpine, TX regarding the indictments. L-R: behind RAC Bernie Bolf is Assistant United States Attorney James “J” Miller, Department of Homeland Security Supervisor Jody Sharp, Presidio Independent School District Superintendent Dennis McEntire, USBP Big Bend Sector Chief John Smietana, and Culberson County Sheriff Oscar Carrillo.
|Assistant United States Attorney James “J” Miller during the press conference.|
“This case involved a particularly brazen act of using a school bus and students as cover for a drug load. These arrests and federal charges should send a message that law enforcement agencies will work together to ensure that persons involved in this type of activity are brought to justice, especially when the safety of our children is concerned. This case also shows the importance of the cooperation we receive from vigilant and honest citizens, without whose assistance we could not do our jobs,” stated DEA-El Paso Division Special Agent in Charge Joseph M. Arabit.
Upon conviction, each defendant faces a minimum of five years in federal prison per count. The statutory maximum sentence for conviction of the school zone related drug charge is 80 years’ incarceration and a $10 million fine. The statutory maximum sentence for conviction of the other drug charge is 40 years’ incarceration and a $5 million fine.
Both defendants remain in federal custody pending the outcome of a detention hearing scheduled for 9:30am on June 19, 2013, before U.S. Magistrate Judge B. Dwight Goains in Alpine, TX. This indictment resulted from an investigation conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration (Alpine) together with the U.S. Border Patrol, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI-Alpine) and the Texas Department of Public Safety Narcotics Division (Alpine). Assistant United States Attorney James J. Miller, Jr., is prosecuting this case on behalf of the Government.
An indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt.
The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.