July 21, 2017
Contact: Wendell Campbell
Phone Number: (713) 693-3000
Texas Man Convicted: Attempted To Smuggle 50 Kilos Of Cocaine
McALLEN, Texas - A McAllen federal jury has convicted a lawful permanent resident who was residing in Mission, Texas for possessing with the intent to distribute approximately 50 kilograms of cocaine, announced Joseph M. Arabit the DEA Special Agent-in-Charge of the Houston Division and Acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez. The jury deliberated for less than an hour before convicting Leonel Luis Nordhausen-Cuevas, 58, following a two-day-trial.
During trial, the jury heard that a Border Patrol agent was conducting surveillance at the StarrCo farms south of La Grulla on March 11, 2016 and observed Nordhausen-Cuevas drive down to a ramp near the Rio Grande River, enter the brush and return to his truck carrying something heavy. He then drove to a building on the farm and carried something inside.
Soon after, another agent arrived and observed Nordhausen-Cuevas standing outside the truck. He claimed the truck was not his and that someone else had just exited the truck and ran south. The agent searched the truck and found a fertilizer bag containing approximately 25 kilograms of cocaine wrapped in small brown bundles with distinctive markings.
Nordhausen-Cuevas had the truck’s keys on him, but still claimed it was someone else who was driving it.
The first agent arrived at the scene and identified Nordhausen-Cuevas as the person he saw pickup something from the river area based on his clothing and stature. That agent then investigated the first building that Nordhausen-Cuevas entered and found another fertilizer bag full of cocaine bundles, just like the one in the truck.
Nordhausen-Cuevas later claimed that a “Martin” had been the driver, but gave no more information about “Martin,” upon questioning. The jury heard that there were no employees named “Martin” working on the farm at that time.
U.S. District Judge Ricardo Hinojosa, who presided over the trial, has set sentencing for September 29, 2017, at which time Nordhausen-Cuevas faces a minimum of 10 years and up to life in federal prison. He will remain in custody pending that hearing.
The DEA and the US Customs and Border Patrol conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph T. Leonard and Roberto Lopez Jr. are prosecuting the case.