McALLEN — A local woman said financial hardships led her to smuggling pot.
Unable to make ends meet with her small business, a Roma woman now faces prison after she pleaded guilty for her role in the movement of nearly 500 pounds of pot.
Veronica Talamante stood before U.S. District Judge Randy Crane on Friday morning during a re-arraignment hearing in which she pleaded guilty to the sale and distribution of marijuana, the second count in her indictment.
In exchange, the government agrees to dismiss the marijuana conspiracy charge at the time of Talamante’s sentencing, court records show.
Government prosecutors allege the 43-year-old woman had more than 480 pounds of marijuana in her vehicle Feb. 8, when a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper pulled her over for a traffic violation.
When the trooper approached Talamante’s vehicle, he could see in plain view wrapped bundles of what appeared to be marijuana.
In total, authorities said Talamante was in possession of 218 kilos of marijuana, approximately 480 pounds of marijuana.
It would be three months before she was officially indicted in what was originally a conspiracy case involving other unnamed persons into the illegal transport and movement of marijuana, court records show.
“…Talamante did knowingly and intentionally conspire and agree with other persons known and unknown to the grand jurors, to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance,” the indictment reads. “The controlled substance involved was 100 kilograms or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of marijuana, a Schedule I controlled substance.”
The woman, who operates a small convenience store in Alamo, admitted she was facing some financial hardships and chose to help someone move the aforementioned bundles of marijuana.
Talamante, who on June 1 had originally pleaded not guilty to the two charges against her, was recently released from detention after a magistrate approved a $10,000 bond, court records show.
Crane, despite Talamante’s guilty plea to the distribution charge, agreed to allow her to remain on bond pending her September sentencing date, when she faces a minimum of five years in prison.