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Couple Headed to Prison for Methamphetamine Smuggling

OCT 27 (LAREDO, Texas) - A local woman has been ordered to prison for nearly 20 years following her conviction of trafficking liquid methamphetamine, announced Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Joseph M. Arabit, Houston Division and U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson. A federal jury convicted Brenda Rodriguez-Garcia, 23, of Laredo, following a two-day trial on June 30, 2015.

Today, U.S. District Judge Diana Saldaña, who presided over the trial, ordered Rodriguez-Garcia to serve a total of 235 months in federal prison to be immediately followed by five years of supervised release. Also sentenced today was Luis Hernandez-Cabello, 30, of Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, who pleaded guilty June 9, 2015. He will serve 37 months in prison. He is expected to face deportation proceedings following his release.

At trial, Border Patrol (BP) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents described their Feb. 9, 2015, discovery of methamphetamine concealed in the running boards of the couple’s Chevrolet Suburban. Testimony revealed that Rodriguez and Hernandez had passed through the same checkpoint in a different vehicle three days earlier. Although the couple was allowed to proceed with their travel on that date, an agent later found crystals on his uniform and tools that tested positive as methamphetamine. Rodriguez and Hernandez were recognized when they attempted to pass through the same check point on the later date. The jury also heard from DEA drug chemists and drug value experts who testified that the confiscated drug was methamphetamine and had a value between approximately $340,000 and $400,000.

At the hearing today, Rodriguez-Garcia asked the court for a minimal sentence, but the judge refused. The court noted that she believed Rodriguez-Garcia was the most culpable - driving the vehicles each time, organizing the trips, securing the vehicles and giving inconsistent statements. The Judge pointed out the jury’s finding of guilty, the significant quantities of methamphetamine involved and Rodriguez-Garcia’s refusal to accept responsibility for her actions.

Both defendants will remain in custody pending transfer to U.S. Bureau of Prisons facilities to be determined in the near future.

The charges were the result of an investigation conducted by BP and DEA. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher dos Santos, Mike Eaton and Homero Ramirez prosecuted the case.

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