March 24, 2015
Contact: Wendell Campbell
Phone Number: (713) 693-3000
Laredo Jury Convicts Bus Passenger Of Heroin Smuggling
LAREDO, Texas - Altagracia Guadalupe Vargas, 28, of Laredo, has been convicted of conspiracy and possession with the intent to distribute Heroin, announced Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Joseph M. Arabit, Houston Division and U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson. The jury returned its verdict following a three-day trial and approximately one hour deliberation.
The jury heard that on Dec. 12, 2014, Vargas conspired to smuggle approximately 3.5 kilograms of heroin through the U.S. Border (BP) checkpoint Interstate 35. Vargas was a passenger on a Turimex bus and attempted to smuggle the black-tar heroin in the inner linings of two carry-on bags. Vargas was questioned and gave multiple inconsistent statements.
At trial, the government presented testimony from law enforcement and other experts who explained the discovery of the heroin and its value of more than $100,000.
Vargas testified in her defense and claimed no knowledge of the drugs and that she believed the bags contained computer tools that were concealed to prevent theft. She said the bags belonged to a man named “Don Tono,” which contradicted her earlier statement that the bag belonged to her sister. Vargas also testified she received $50 from Don Tono for this trip. However, the government demonstrated that she had actually paid $75 of her own money for the bus ticket, which would have resulted in a $25 loss.
U.S. District Judge Diana Saldana presided over trial. Sentencing will be scheduled at a later date, at which time Vargas faces minimum of 10 years and up to life in federal as well as a possible $10 million fine.The charges are the result of an investigation by Border Patrol, Drug Enforcement Administration and Customs and Border Protection. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alfredo De La Rosa and Sanjeev Bhasker prosecuted the case.