June 30, 2015
Contact: Wendell Campbell
Phone Number: (713) 693-3000
Houston Mother And Son Sent To Prison For Smuggling Methamphetamine
HOUSTON - Larry Maurice Favorite, 33, and Juanita Eva Velasquez, 63, both of Houston, have been ordered to federal prison for possession with intent to distribute nearly nine kilograms of a mixture or substance containing methamphetamine and conspiracy to do the same, announced Special Agent in Charge Joseph M. Arabit of the Drug Enforcement (DEA) and U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson. Favorite was convicted by a federal jury Feb. 10, 2015, following a two-day trial, while his mother had entered a guilty plea to her role in the methamphetamine trafficking conspiracy the week prior.
Today, U.S. District Judge Gray Miller handed Velasquez a sentence of 262 months in federal prison to be immediately followed by 10 years of supervised release. Even though she had pleaded guilty to the charge, at the hearing today, Velasquez alternatively claimed she was forced to traffic the drugs against her will and that she did not know she was trafficking drugs. As a result of her claims today, Judge Miller denied a potential reduction in her sentence for accepting responsibility for her criminal conduct. In handing down the sentence, the court also noted her criminal history to include a prior 120-month federal sentence for trafficking cocaine.
On May 21, 2015, Judge Miller handed Favorite a total sentence of 210 months in federal prison. He will also serve five years of supervised release following completion of the prison term.
At trial, the jury heard that on June 22, 2012, Favorite drove a Honda minivan from Laredo to the Border Patrol immigration checkpoint on Highway 59, approximately 16 miles west of Freer. His mother was riding as a front seat passenger. A law enforcement canine alerted to the van in primary inspection, at which time agents sent the van and occupants to secondary inspection. A search was conducted which revealed three unmarked glass bottles in a bag located near the front passenger seat of the van. The bottles contained a brown liquid that appeared to be thicker than water.
Agents then found six more identical looking bottles behind the center console area. The nine bottles held a total of approximately nine liters of liquid, which agents field tested positive for methamphetamine.
Velasquez and Favorite were immediately arrested and agents with the Drug Enforcement (DEA) conducted further investigation. Favorite initially told agents he did not know there were any bottles in the van and that he and his mother had driven down from Houston.
However, when agents asked if the bottles belonged to his mother, Favorite then claimed they were only his. He stated he received them previously from a Hispanic male, but would not elaborate.
The bottles were sent to the DEA laboratory for more thorough testing. The laboratory confirmed the liquid contained methamphetamine having a net weight of 8.966 kilograms with a purity level of 48.4%. The total amount of actual methamphetamine in the bottles was 4.339 kilograms and it had been imported from Mexico.
At the time of Velasquez’s plea, she admitted to having driven from Houston with her son to pick up the bottles containing the drugs and driving them back to Houston for an expected payment of $600 per bottle. She admitted she knew the bottles contained drugs and that she was in fact taking them to Houston for financial compensation.
Previously released on bond, Velasquez was taken into custody following the sentencing today where she will remain pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future. Favorite has been and will remain in custody.The investigation leading to the charges in this case was conducted by DEA and Border Patrol. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Arthur R. Jones and Anibal Alaniz prosecuted the case.