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Hidalgo Man Gets Lengthy Sentence for Smuggling Meth

JUN 09 (McALLEN, Texas) - Manuel de la Cruz Jr., 32, has been ordered to federal prison following his conviction for conspiring to possess with the intent to distribute nearly 11 kilograms of methamphetamine, announced Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Joseph M. Arabit, Houston Division and U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson. De la Cruz, a U.S. citizen from Hidalgo, pleaded guilty Feb. 2, 2015.

Today, visiting U.S. District Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo sentenced de la Cruz to 150 months in federal prison to be immediately followed by five years of supervised release. In handing down the sentence, Judge Marmolejo discussed de la Cruz’s involvement in a DWI wreck where his children were passengers and his involvement in further drug-related activity.

On Sep. 24, 2013, de la Cruz was traveling north on U.S. Highway 281 in Brooks County when he was stopped for a traffic violation. A subsequent search of his vehicle led to the discovery of approximately 11 kilograms of methamphetamine. He initially claimed to be traveling for work, but later admitted being paid $1,500 to transport the narcotics.

De la Cruz has been in custody since his arrest where he will remain pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future. 

The charges were the result of an investigation by Homeland Security Investigations, Texas Department of Public Safety and the Drug Enforcement Administration. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Leonard is prosecuting the case.

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