Rio Grande City woman sentenced in arms transport case

McALLEN — A Rio Grande City woman was sentenced Wednesday to more than seven years in federal prison for being in possession of multiple firearms.

Erika Verenice Rodriguez admitted that the nine different firearms found in her possession in June 2017 were for a family member who is a high-ranking member of the Gulf Cartel.

U.S. District Judge Randy Crane handed down an 87-month prison sentence along with three years of supervised release upon completion of the prison term.

The sentence comes after a one-day bench trial held on Nov. 30, 2017, where the court found Rodriguez guilty of unlawful transport of firearms related to an arrest in June of last year.

Rodriguez, 34, was arrested by a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper on June 3, 2017, as she made her way from Houston to the Rio Grande Valley, according to the criminal complaint.

Rodriguez, who was traveling with one female passenger, was pulled over just after 3 p.m. near San Manuel for a traffic violation.

During the stop, the trooper found that Rodriguez was a convicted felon, having previously been convicted on a drug possession charge in Fayette County, Texas, the complaint states.

In July 2015, Rodriguez was convicted of a second-degree marijuana possession charge in connection with an arrest in which she was in possession of more than 100 pounds of marijuana. Rodriguez was on probation at the time of her arrest in June 2017.

Rodriguez told the trooper she had firearms in the vehicle and gave permission for a search.

“Upon searching the vehicle, the DPS trooper discovered seven AK-47 style rifles, one AK-47 style pistol, and one .50-caliber rifle in the trunk of her car,” the complaint states. “The serial numbers … to all nine firearms were obliterated.”

Rodriguez claimed ownership of the weapons, the complaint states.

During a subsequent interview, Rodriguez admitted it wasn’t the first time she had transported guns for her family member and that she had done so three previous times, according to representatives from the government.

In addition, the woman said the guns were for a family member, who was a comandante, a commander, in the Gulf Cartel — a criminal syndicate and drug trafficking organization based in Matamoros, Mexico.