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Meth Smuggler Heads to Federal Prison

DEC 04 (LAREDO, Texas) - A 23-year-old legal permanent resident from Mexico who resided in Laredo has been ordered to prison following his conviction of possession of nearly nine kilograms of crystal methamphetamine, announced Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Joseph M. Arabit, Houston Division and U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson. Wilivaldo Sanchez-Mende, 23, pleaded guilty April 30, 2015.

Today, Senior U.S. District Judge George P. Kazen ordered Sanchez-Mende to serve 96 months in federal prison to be immediately followed by five years of supervised release. At the hearing, the defense had asked for a low sentence because he was only a courier. Judge Kazen denied the request and imposed the higher sentence for the first-time offender.

Sanchez-Mendez was apprehended on the evening of Feb. 13, 2015, at the Border Patrol checkpoint north of Laredo after a canine alerted to the possibility of drugs hidden within the gas tank. He soon admitted he thought he was smuggling cocaine.

Agents removed nine PVC pipes concealed within the vehicle’s gasoline tank that contained a crystalline material which field-tested positive for crystal methamphetamine. The net weight was measured at 8.861 kilograms - 19.5 pounds - and had an estimated street value of $950,400.

Sanchez-Mende stated that he was working for persons in Mexico and moving narcotics to Dallas. He further claimed to have made at least three similar trips in the past, receiving payment of approximately $4,000 for each trip.

Sanchez-Mendez has been in custody since his arrest on Feb. 13, 2015, where he will remain pending transfer to a Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.  

The investigation leading to the charges in this case was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration and Border Patrol. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jose Homero Ramirez prosecuted the case.

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