Man who conspired with Reynosa doctor in smuggling case pleads guilty

McALLEN — A man who admitted to working with a Reynosa doctor to smuggle cocaine into the country pleaded guilty Wednesday, court records show.

Jorge Montoya-Rivera stood before U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez Wednesday afternoon, when he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import a controlled substance; in exchange, the government agreed to dismiss the remaining counts.

Additional counts include import of a controlled substance and an additional conspiracy charge.

The charges are in connection with a March incident at the Hidalgo-Reynosa International Bridge where Montoya-Rivera was attempting to enter the country at the port of entry.

During the inspection of Montoya-Rivera’s vehicle, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers discovered 35 bundles of what was later determined to be cocaine, according to the complaint filed against Montoya-Rivera.

“The cocaine was within a hidden compartment in a vehicle attempting to make entry into the United States from Mexico,” the court record shows.

During his interview with U.S. Department of Homeland Security agents, the 51-year-old man said the vehicle was given to him by a Reynosa doctor named Dante Jaime Yoplac-Augustín, who told him he could use the vehicle in exchange for small payments.

He said a few days before his attempt into the country, he had turned the car over to “individuals” in Mexico and had it returned to him the day he made his attempt into the country.

“Montoya-Rivera stated he suspected there were narcotics in the vehicle but he did not want to ask which type,” the complaint states.

He told federal agents that he suspected the car was loaded with drugs on four previous occasions where he crossed into the U.S.

“Montoya-Rivera stated he did not receive monetary compensation but was allowed to use the vehicle as his own and believed that to be his payment,” the court record shows.

Yoplac, who attempted to cross into the country through the pedestrian bridge, was also arrested in connection with the cocaine conspiracy.

A naturalized Mexican citizen originally from Peru, Yoplac said he became involved in the conspiracy after he had accrued a debt of about 50,000 Mexican pesos, or about $2,700, with an unnamed drug cartel organization.

He stated during the hearing that his only role in the conspiracy was driving vehicles from one location to another in order to “pay down his debt.”

A week before his arrest, he said he waited for Montoya-Rivera to cross into the U.S. so that he could pick up the vehicle in order to move it to a different location, where another unnamed person would take over the vehicle, the complaint states.

The Reynosa doctor pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to import a controlled substance in early May and is scheduled for sentencing on July 31, when he faces between 10 years and life in prison.

Montoya-Rivera is scheduled for sentencing Sept. 13, court records show.