News Release
Date: March 29, 2012
Contact: Lisa A. Webb Johnson
Number: 713-693-3000

Two Guilty in Fayette County Texas Cocaine Case
--Face up to Life in Prison, $10 million in Fines --

MAR 29 - (Houston, TX) – Jose G. Padilla, 35, and Coy Esteban, 35, have pled guilty to aiding and abetting in the possession with intent to distribute seven kilograms of cocaine, Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Javier F. Peña and U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today.

Esteban pled guilty today, while Padilla entered his plea yesterday, both before U.S. District Judge Keith P. Ellison.

During their respective pleas, the government detailed the events on Feb. 22, 2011, when a truck driven by Padilla was stopped by the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office in Flatonia, Texas. At that time, the deputy noted the vehicle was being operated with defective safety equipment. When Padilla and Esteban, the only passenger in the truck, provided conflicting information to this law enforcement officer, a narcotics canine was utilized and indicated to the odor of narcotics in the truck. Padilla’s vehicle was searched and more than seven kilograms of cocaine was found secreted inside the rocker panels on both sides of the truck. The evidence ultimately revealed they were knowingly transporting the cocaine out of state for further distribution.

Judge Ellison has set sentencing for Padilla and Esteban for June 14, 2012, at which time each faces a minimum of 10 years and a maximum of life in federal prison as well as a maximum fine of $10 million. Both have been in custody since their arrest where they will remain pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Shelley Hicks as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force.